Our Hyper-Militarized Presence in the Persian Gulf

John Glaser, July 24, 2012

John Reed, writing last week in Foreign Policy, describes Washington’s militarized empire of bases in the Persian Gulf in all its gritty detail. The Obama administration has moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulfin order to intimidate Iran and increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking the Islamic Republic in any potential conflict. But as Reed explains, “what’s already there is pretty impressive.”

Take Jebel Ali. Built in the 1970s and located roughly 20 miles southwest of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the port has the largest man-made deep-water harbor in the world; and, covering 52 square miles, it’s the largest port in the Middle East, with more than 1 million square meters of shipping container storage. A quick look on Google Earth reveals a U.S. Navy Nimitz class aircraft carrier tied up alongside the service’s fenced in R&R facility there. And where there are carriers, there are Aegis radar-equipped guided missile cruisers and destroyers, frigates, at least one attack submarine, and several supply ships similar to the Rappahannock nearby. While it’s not officially a major Navy base, it sees a steady stream of ships that are rotating through the region on deployments from their homeports in the United States.

Next up is the headquarters for the Navy’s Middle East operations, in Manama, Bahrain, a site the sea service describes as, “the busiest 60 acres in the world.” While Naval Support Activity Bahrain, as it’s formally known, isn’t necessarily bustling with as many large ships as Jebel Ali, it serves as the nerve center for the U.S. Fifth Fleet and a variety of U.S. and international task forces that do everything from protecting Iraq’s oil platforms to hunting pirates off the Somali coast. It’s also the home port of numerous U.S. Navy minesweepers and patrol boats, while bigger Navy ships often pull into Bahrain’s extensive repair and resupply facilities that sit just across the harbor from the base.

Much as Jebel Ali does for the Navy, the UAE air force’s Al Dhafra Air Base serves as a major hub for U.S. and allied jets. American KC-10 and KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, E-3 Sentry AWACS jets, U-2 spy planes, and even F-22 Raptors regularly deploy there. The base is also home to the Gulf Air Warfare Center, a facility that brings together the air forces of the GCC states, the U.S. Air Force, and other nations for air combat exercises. Al Dhafra is also rumored to be a potential home for U.S.-made high-altitude missile defense systems.

Perhaps more important than Al Dhafra is the American base at al Udeid, Qatar, U.S. Central Command’s hub for allied forces in the region, as well as host to a number of bombers, cargo planes, tankers, and spy jets. Again, a Google Earth overview reveals B-1 heavy bombers, KC-135 tankers, RC-135 Rivet Joint signals intelligence collection planes, E-8 Joint STARS ground-scanning radar jets, C-130 tactical airlifters, P-3 Orion submarine hunters, an EP-3 Aries signals intelligence plane, a C-5 Galaxy airlifter, and C-17 airlifters on the ramp there.

Meanwhile, Camp Arifjan in Kuwait has served as the regional depot for U.S. military ground vehicles in the Gulf, most recently thousands of tanks, trucks, MRAPS, and other armored vehicles departing Iraq. Camp Arifjan is closely linked with the Kuwaiti port of Shuaiba, where the ground vehicles are loaded and unloaded from cargo ships. The Air Force maintains a wing of C-130 Hercules tactical airlifters at Ali al Salem Air Base in Kuwait.

That’s all just the beginning. Reed goes into even further detail on the current reinforcements being brought to the Gulf states; everything from minesweepers, attack helicopters, “Griffin missiles and their associated launchers,” and high-tech radars, not to mention beefing up the militaries of these brutal, undemocratic regimes. And people still wonder how it is that innocent fisherman get killed by US forces in the Gulf waters, why Iran feels threatened (and acts accordingly), and of course…”why they hate us.”

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report [PDF] recently described how Washington aims to maintain key military bases and troop presence throughout the entire region and how to overcome challenges to maintaining such dominance, which is vital because the region is “home to more than half of the world’s oil reserves and over a third of its natural gas.” The report, rather unapologetically, admitted that US military presence in the region as well as US support for brutal dictatorships has generated widespread hatred and blowback. According to the report, the challenge is to maintain the imperial dominance over the region, but avoid the messy “backlash” and embarrassment from the support for vast “human rights abuses.”

Do we face any actual military threat from Iran, or any other state in the Middle East? No. But as Colin Powell recently explained, American defense has nothing to do with defense, and everything to do with offense. These postures, as Madison said of standing armies, are one of history’s greatest mischiefs.




  • khadar

    We spreading "democracy"

  • Bob Bogus

    Complete insanity. Our rulers are bankrupting the county and heading us for a terrible day of reckoning.

    Bushie was right. Freedumb is on the march. And the Amerikan Sheeple baa with alacrity.

  • RParker

    Quite an impressive arsenal to protect Israel.

    • Aarky

      and to carry out Israeli policy. When I found out that Ehud Barack, the Defense Minister and former PM, had a side job as a consultant to a hedge fund, the light flashed on. It's all a huge scam/plot to keep the price of oil high, and all those huge bases are part of the scam. Maybe we should get around to telling the Generals and Admirals.

      • RParker

        I'm sure they know about it and are receiving kickback money from it, along with CONgress.

  • http://boostrankseo.com/ Janeth

    Bushie was right. Freedumb is on the march. And the Amerikan Sheeple baa with alacrity.

  • Pingback: America’s Empire of Bases Gets More Expensive « Antiwar.com Blog()

  • http://www.elitelimohouston.com/occasions/winter-holiday-limo.htm jordon

    and international task forces that do everything from protecting Iraq’s oil platforms to hunting pirates off the Somali coast. It’s also the home port of numerous U.S. Navy minesweepers and patrol boats, while bigger Navy ships often pull into Bahrain’s extensive repair and resupply facilities that sit just across the harbor from the base.winter holiday limo

  • http://www.elitelimohouston.com/occasions/winter-holiday-limo.htm jordon

    and international task forces that do everything from protecting Iraq’s oil platforms to hunting pirates off the Somali coast. It’s also the home port of numerous U.S. Navy minesweepers and patrol boats, while bigger Navy ships often pull into Bahrain’s extensive repair and resupply facilities that sit just across the harbor from the basewinter holiday limousine

  • http://www.tubidy.gen.tr tubidy

    No matter how many times I read it, it never gets old. You definitely hit the nail on the head on this one. This is something people need to know about. Your blog is really incredible and the design is really top notch

  • https://www.passbeemedia.com/ibeacon/ Mobile wallet

    Very nice history :)

  • http://www.speechschool.tv/ Learn English Online

    SpeechSchool.TV is the world's #1 provider of online speech training. We're based on campus at a major university and in central London. Whether you want to learn to speak with a Standard English accent or become a seasoned public speaker, our courses can transform your confidence.

  • http://www.highjump.no/event/teambuilding/ Teambuilding

    I was not too familiar with this term correctly. But it seems herbicide is a product developed by a company or group.

  • https://halongimperialcruise.vn halong tours

    I’ve been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  • http://www.allflashfiles.net Flashing Tools

    Nice post thanks for sharing.

  • https://www.passbeemedia.com/create-digital-tickets/ Digital tickets

    ME and my friends really like the Gulf. Sports man always remain the healthy and fit. I learn so much from your history life.

  • http://www.inkas.ae/ Anthony Cole

    The law is and always has been a tool of domination by the powerful……….. and the white glove ZioNazis who run our show these days will be much more harsh…….. Check out the lovely Victoria Nuland… Hillary's "spokesperson" ….. wife of big pro-torture Neocon top dog Fred Kagan…??

  • http://fireloading.com/files/index.php memo
  • http://fireloading.com/files/index.php memo
  • http://fireloading.com/files/index.php memo
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvWFCipuwyQ Youtube.com

    Camp Arifjan in Kuwait has served as the regional depot for U.S. military ground vehicles in the Gulf, most recently thousands of tankas..

  • https://www.caesarsfinancial.com/ caesarsfinancial.com

    nice.Built in the 1970s and located roughly 20 miles southwest of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the port has the largest man-made deep-water harbor in the world; and, covering 52 square miles,

  • http://www.adzet.com/marketing-program.php Marketing Programs

    Adzet is the world's leading Marketing Platform – providing marketing strategy and business development strategy to small and medium businesses worldwide

  • http://emarketingchamps.com/shoplicate/ Click

    its very nice. Truly, this article is really one of the very best in the history of articles.

  • http://www.ukprivateinvestigators.com/ find a debtor

    haha it’s formally known, isn’t necessarily bustling with as many large ships as Jebel Ali,

  • http://www.funwirks.com Halloween Costumes

    Absolutely nice blog i like it Deferentially this blog have this quality big cost, sd

  • https://sudoapp.com/explore-and-connect online privacy

    Nice post thanks for sharing. ,,,