About 200 miles to the east across a body of water that has seen many tense naval encounters and acts of sabotage sat America longtime adversary Iran

Author : arumireina81298469
Publish Date : 2021-02-25 15:36:10


About 200 miles to the east across a body of water that has seen many tense naval encounters and acts of sabotage sat America longtime adversary Iran

MANAMA, Bahrain – After weeks at sea, hundreds of young Americans shed their military uniforms for baseball caps and T-shirts and poured forth from the main gates of the heavily fortified U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet base, a major hub for U.S. naval forces in the Middle East. 

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln had just docked in Bahrain, a small Arab island nation on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf. The disembarking U.S. service members were intent on cutting loose for a respite from their national security mission patrolling one of the world's busiest and most volatile shipping lanes.

About 200 miles to the east, across a body of water that has seen many tense naval encounters and acts of sabotage, sat America's longtime adversary Iran.

A few months later, the U.S. and Iran would nearly enter into an open confrontation after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps fired ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. soldiers. The attack was retaliation for the Pentagon's assassination of senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.


For the sailors, Bahrain's "American Alley" was a taste of home: a thoroughfare of fast-food restaurants and shops catering to Westerners. The sailors clutched iPhones and Starbucks coffee and fended off attempts by locals to sell them watches and other trinkets.

For America's military planners back in Washington, the sailors represented a longstanding bedrock of U.S. national security: one of the Pentagon's hundreds of footholds all over the planet. 

Sea change in security threats
Sea change in security threats
For decades, the U.S. has enjoyed global military dominance, an achievement that has underpinned its influence, national security and efforts at promoting democracy.

The Department of Defense spends more than $700 billion a year on weaponry and combat preparedness – more than the next 10 countries combined, according to economic think tank the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.


INTERACTIVE: 3 maps show why the U.S. is the 'world's police'

The U.S. military's reach is vast and empire-like.

In Germany, about 45,000 Americans go to work each day around the Kaiserslautern Military Community, a network of U.S. Army and Air Force bases that accommodates schools, housing complexes, dental clinics, hospitals, community centers, sports clubs, food courts, military police and retail stores. About 60,000 American military and civilian personnel are stationed in Japan; another 30,000 in South Korea. More than 6,000 U.S. military personnel are spread across Africa, according to the Department of Defense.

Yet today, amid a sea change in security threats, America's military might overseas may be less relevant than it once was, say some security analysts, defense officials and former and active U.S. military service members. 

The most urgent threats to the U.S., they say, are increasingly nonmilitary in nature. Among them: cyberattacks; disinformation; China's economic dominance; climate change; and disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, which ravaged the U.S. economy like no event since the Great Depression.

Trita Parsi, co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington-based think tank that lobbies for U.S. military restraint overseas, said maintaining a large fighting force thousands of miles from U.S. shores is expensive, unwieldy and anachronistic.

"It was designed for a world that still faced another military hegemon," Parsi said. "Now, pandemics, climate chaos, artificial intelligence and 5G are far more important for American national security than having 15 bases in the Indian Ocean."

It may also be counterproductive. Parsi said terrorism recruitment in the Middle East has correlated with U.S. base presence, for example.

Meanwhile, American white supremacists, not foreign terrorists, present the gravest terrorism threat to the U.S., according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security issued in October – three months before a violent mob stormed the Capitol. 

Delivering his first major foreign policy speech as commander-in-chief, President Joe Biden said earlier this month that he instructed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to lead a "Global Posture Review of our forces so that our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities."

Today there are up to 800, according to data from the Pentagon and an outside expert, David Vine, an anthropology professor at American University in Washington. About 220,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel serve in more than 150 countries, the Defense Department says. 


China, by contrast, the world's second-largest economy and by all accounts the United States' biggest competitor, has just a single official overseas military base, in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa. (Camp Lemonnier, the largest U.S. base in Africa, is just miles away.) Britain, France and Russia have up to 60 overseas bases combined, according to Vine. At sea, the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers. China has two. Russia has one.

The exact number of American bases is difficult to determine due to secrecy, bureaucracy and mixed definitions. The 800 bases figure is inflated, some argue, by the Pentagon's treatment of multiple base sites near one another as separate installations. USA TODAY has determined the dates for when more than 350 of these bases opened. It's not clear how many of the rest are actively used.

"They're counting every little patch, every antenna on the top of a mountain with an 8-foot fence around it," said Philip M. Breedlove, a retired four-star general in the U.S. Air Force who also served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe. Breedlove estimated there are a few dozen "major" U.S. overseas bases indispensable to U.S. national security.

Yet there's no question that the U.S. investment in defense and its international military footprint has been expanding for decades.

https://apriliaghina876291.medium.com/white-house-press-secretary-jen-psaki-told-reporters-wednesday-that-biden-would-communicate-a468515d6565



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