Activism Discussion: IRAQ (and OIL?): Billions Of Dollars To Build "enduring" Bases -'should Last "the Next Few Decades." '

IRAQ (and OIL?): Billions Of Dollars To Build "enduring" Bases -'should Last "the Next Few Decades." '
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JA
2005-04-27 00:39:20 EST
April 26, 2005
If the U.S. government doesn't plan to occupy Iraq for any longer than
necessary, why is it spending billions of dollars to build "enduring" bases?
Digging In
By Joshua Hammer
Mother Jones
March/April 2005 Issue

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters last December that
he expected U.S. troops to remain in Iraq for another four years, he was
merely confirming what any visitor to the country could have surmised. The
omnipresence of the giant defense contractor KBR (formerly Kellogg, Brown &
Root), the shipments of concrete and other construction materials, and the
transformation of decrepit Iraqi military bases into fortified American
enclaves\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdcomplete with Pizza Huts and DVD stores\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdare just the most
obvious signs that the United States has been digging in for the long haul.
It's a far cry from administration assurances after the invasion that the
troops could start withdrawing from Iraq as early as the fall of 2003. And
it is hardly consistent with a prediction by Richard Perle, the former
chairman of the Defense Policy Board, that the troops would be out of Iraq
within months, or with Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi's guess
that the U.S. occupation would last two years.

Take, for example, Camp Victory North, a sprawling base near Baghdad
International Airport, which the U.S. military seized just before the ouster
of Saddam Hussein in April 2003. Over the past year, KBR contractors have
built a small American city where about 14,000 troops are living, many
hunkered down inside sturdy, wooden, air-conditioned bungalows called SEA
(for Southeast Asia) huts, replicas of those used by troops in Vietnam.
There's a Burger King, a gym, the country's biggest PX\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdand, of course, a
separate compound for KBR workers, who handle both construction and
logistical support. Although Camp Victory North remains a work in progress
today, when complete, the complex will be twice the size of Camp Bondsteel
in Kosovo\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdcurrently one of the largest overseas posts built since the
Vietnam War.

Such a heavy footprint seems counterproductive, given the growing antipathy
felt by most Iraqis toward the U.S. military occupation. Yet Camp Victory
North appears to be a harbinger of America's future in Iraq. Over the past
year, the Pentagon has reportedly been building up to 14 "enduring" bases
across the country\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdlong-term encampments that could house as many as
100,000 troops indefinitely. John Pike, a military analyst who runs the
research group GlobalSecurity.org, has identified a dozen of these bases,
including three large facilities in and around Baghdad: the Green Zone, Camp
Victory North, and Camp al-Rasheed, the site of Iraq\ufffd\ufffd\ufffds former military
airport. Also listed are Camp Cook, just north of Baghdad, a former
Republican Guard "military city" that has been converted into a giant U.S.
camp; Balad Airbase, north of Baghdad; Camp Anaconda, a 15-square-mile
facility near Balad that housed 17,000 soldiers as of May 2004 and was being
expanded for an additional 3,000; and Camp Marez, next to Mosul Airport,
where, in December, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the base's dining
tent, killing 13 U.S. troops and four KBR contractors eating lunch alongside
the soldiers.

At these bases, KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary that works in cooperation with
the Army Corps of Engineers, has been extending runways, improving security
perimeters, and installing a variety of structures ranging from rigid-wall
huts to aircraft hangars. Although the Pentagon considers most of the
construction to be "temporary"\ufffd\ufffd\ufffddesigned to last up to three
years\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdsimilar facilities have remained in place for much longer at other
"enduring" American bases, including Kosovo's Camp Bondsteel, which opened
in 1999, and Eagle Base in Tuzla, Bosnia, in place since the mid-1990s.

How long is "enduring"? The administration insists that troops will remain
in Iraq as long as it takes to install a functioning, democratic government,
quell the insurgency, and build an efficient Iraqi fighting force. Given the
elusiveness of those goals, many military experts believe that Rumsfeld's
hope that the troops might be out by 2008 is wildly optimistic. Retired
Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, the top U.S. commander in the Middle
East from 1997 to 2000, recently predicted that American involvement in Iraq
would last at least 10 more years. Retired Army Lt. General Jay Garner, the
former interim administrator of reconstruction efforts in Iraq, told
reporters in February 2004 that a U.S. military presence in Iraq should last
"the next few decades." Even that, some analysts warn, could be an
underestimate. "Half a century ago if anyone tried to convince you that
we\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdd still have troops in Korea and Japan, you\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdd think they were crazy,"
says Pike, the military analyst. Suspicions also run deep both inside
Pentagon circles and among analysts that the Department of Defense is
pouring billions of dollars into the facilities in pursuit of a different
agenda entirely: to turn Iraq into a permanent base of operations in the
Middle East.

If true, this scheme is fraught with danger. The presence of U.S. troops is
a powerful recruitment tool for the Iraqi insurgency\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdas well as a source
of bitter anti-American feeling throughout the Middle East. Politically, the
occupation is becoming increasingly untenable: Practically every significant
Iraqi political figure\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdfrom Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani to Iraqi president Ghazi al-Yawar, an influential Sunni
Muslim\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdopposes the occupation and wants the troops out, and any leader who
hopes to maintain credibility will have to make that a priority. "The
presence of bases there is going to be a source of instability and anger for
the Iraqi people, whether they are currently for the insurgency or not,"
says Jessica Matthews, the head of the Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace in Washington, D.C. "It will convince people across the Arab world
that we went there to install an American regime in the Middle East."

The other great danger of "enduring" bases, say critics, is that they tend
to operate according to a well-tested axiom: The deeper you dig in, the
harder it is to dig out. That's hardly reassuring to the 11,400 U.S.
soldiers who\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdve had their enlistments extended through the stop-loss
clause in their contracts, and to others who\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdve been forced to serve
multiple tours in the combat zone.

One indication of an open-ended U.S. occupation is the amount of money that
has already been spent on bases in Iraq. KBR\ufffd\ufffd\ufffds first big building contract
there, in June 2003, was a $200 million project to build and maintain
"temporary housing units" for U.S. troops. Since then, according to military
documents, it has received another $8.5 billion for work associated with
Operation Iraqi Freedom. By far the largest sum\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdat least $4.5
billion\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdhas gone to construction and maintenance of U.S. bases. By
comparison, from 1999 to this spring, the U.S. government paid $1.9 billion
to KBR for similar work in the Balkans.

Does the Department of Defense have a bigger agenda in Iraq? Brig. General
Robert Pollman, chief engineer of base construction in Iraq, caused a
stir\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdand forced his superiors to engage in damage control\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdwhen he told
the Chicago Tribune last spring that the bases could be a "swap" for bases
in Saudi Arabia. The United States has been closing bases and drawing down
its forces in the kingdom in response to the growing unpopularity of the
American presence there and repeated terror attacks. In mid-2003, roughly
4,500 U.S. troops reportedly redeployed from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, leaving
only about 500 in the kingdom.

Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who served in the
office of the Secretary of Defense until spring 2003, and has since become
an outspoken critic of the war, says that the neoconservative architects of
the Iraq invasion definitely foresaw a permanent, large-scale presence.
Kwiatkowski says that Pentagon planners view the bases as vital both for
protecting Israel and as launchpads for operations in Syria and Iran. The
Pentagon, she says, went into the war assuming that once Saddam was toppled
a so-called Status of Forces Agreement, like those the U.S. government
signed with Japan and South Korea, could be quickly reached with Iraq. The
growth of the insurgency and the vocal opposition to a prolonged U.S.
occupation among Iraqi leaders haven't changed the plan, Kwiatkowski
insists: "We\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdre pouring concrete. We\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdre building little fiefdoms with
security, moats, and walls\ufffd\ufffd\ufffd. Eighty percent of Iraqis will grouse, but
they have no political power," she says. "We'll stay whether they want us to
or not."

Other American officials heartily dispute that assertion. One U.S. official
who served alongside L. Paul Bremer in the Coalition Provisional Authority
insists that base construction has been an ad hoc effort, reflecting the
changing facts on the ground, not long-term strategy. "At no time did I ever
overhear any meaningful discussion about 'permanent bases,'" he says. "I
remember asking Bremer about it from time to time, and he would say, 'That's
ludicrous.' Maybe there are some military guys brainstorming. But it just
isn't on the agenda." The official concedes that permanent basing in Iraq
"makes sense" from a strictly strategic perspective, given the steady
reduction of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and the potential volatility of
U.S. relations with other Gulf allies, like Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and
Bahrain, which currently have, all together, an estimated 30,000 U.S. troops
stationed within their borders. But he agrees the consequences of such a
move would be disastrous: Permanent bases "would be under siege, a
temptation for terrorists, a symbol of U.S. occupation. It would totally
undermine our political strategy in Iraq." Adds Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.),
who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, "The next Iraqi
leadership has to show they are truly sovereign and independent. And
that\ufffd\ufffd\ufffds hard to do if they lease significant parts of Iraq to the United
States. We've already seen the ability of these insurgents to target our
facilities and attack them. I'd be very reluctant to say this is a good
place to base our troops."

That's not to say that the Pentagon isn't keen to maintain at least some
American presence on the ground. According to one intelligence source in
Baghdad, maintaining a quick reaction force in Iraq would be essential to
prevent, for example, a coup against a friendly Iraqi government. And the
Pentagon sees Iraq as possibly playing a role in its global realignment of
U.S. forces\ufffd\ufffd\ufffda shift away from the static, Cold War basing arrangements in
Europe to smaller, more flexible deployments in volatile regions like the
Middle East. One model they point to is Camp Lemonier, which was built in
the Horn of Africa country Djibouti in 2002 and houses about 1,300 troops as
well as facilities for fighter planes.

A high-ranking military officer in the Middle East says that the Pentagon
envisions a small number of bases in Iraq that "in no way approximates what
we have there now." He insists that "we are not planning to occupy the
country. We\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdre talking about a small, unobtrusive presence\ufffd\ufffd\ufffdit could
simply be facilities that give you the capability to come in and out." That
version of "Occupation Lite" may eventually come to pass. For the
foreseeable future, however, it is difficult to imagine anything other than
an enduring status quo: a heavy troop presence, big bases spread across the
country, and a steadily rising body count.



Howard Berkowitz
2005-04-27 09:52:00 EST
In article <d4n51n$frq$1@lust.ihug.co.nz>, "JA" <jasminae@yahoo.om>
wrote:

> April 26, 2005
> If the U.S. government doesn't plan to occupy Iraq for any longer than
> necessary, why is it spending billions of dollars to build "enduring"
> bases?
> Digging In
> By Joshua Hammer
> Mother Jones
> March/April 2005 Issue
>
Taking the lazy route of cutting and pasting copyrighted articles again,
I see, rather than providing a link and even...dare I suggest...some of
your own commentary.

Again, I point out that I've been posting real humanitarian problem
detail such as Darfur, which, apparently, you don't respond to because
there's little to criticize the US or UK about.

Wm James
2005-04-27 10:40:03 EST
On Wed, 27 Apr 2005 16:39:20 +1200, "JA" <jasminae@yahoo.om> wrote:

>If the U.S. government doesn't plan to occupy Iraq for any longer than
>necessary, why is it spending billions of dollars to build "enduring" bases?

We don't occupy Cuba, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc....
Having a base there is not an occupation, as clerly obvious in Cuba,
it doesn't even necessarily prevent enemy occupations.

William R. James


R*@gmail.com
2005-04-27 12:09:30 EST
JA wrote:
> Take, for example, Camp Victory North, a sprawling base near Baghdad
> International Airport, which the U.S. military seized just before the
ouster
> of Saddam Hussein in April 2003. Over the past year, KBR contractors
have
> built a small American city where about 14,000 troops are living,
many
> hunkered down inside sturdy, wooden, air-conditioned bungalows called
SEA
> (for Southeast Asia) huts, replicas of those used by troops in
Vietnam.
> There's a Burger King, a gym, the country's biggest PXâ€"and, of
course, a
> separate compound for KBR workers, who handle both construction and
> logistical support. Although Camp Victory North remains a work in
progress
> today, when complete, the complex will be twice the size of Camp
Bondsteel
> in Kosovoâ€"currently one of the largest overseas posts built
since the
> Vietnam War.

Did you know that a SEA hut can be picked up and moved by a large
forklift?
Pretty clearly you've never lived in one.

Nothing permanent about it. They are used *becuse* they are cheap and
easy to build and temporary.


Colin Campbell Remove Underscore>
2005-04-27 13:36:22 EST
On 27 Apr 2005 09:09:30 -0700, rto.trainer@gmail.com wrote:


>Nothing permanent about it. They are used *becuse* they are cheap and
>easy to build and temporary.

'Cheap' and 'temporary' are the best words that can be used to
describe these things.





"The commander in the field is always right and the
rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise."
General Colin Powell

JA
2005-04-27 15:49:30 EST

"Wm James" <wrjames.remove@spamreaper.org> wrote in message
news:8u8v619rdao567ut9stpodj5ukbfrqor7a@4ax.com...
> On Wed, 27 Apr 2005 16:39:20 +1200, "JA" <jasminae@yahoo.om> wrote:
>
>>If the U.S. government doesn't plan to occupy Iraq for any longer than
>>necessary, why is it spending billions of dollars to build "enduring"
>>bases?
>
> We don't occupy Cuba, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc....
> Having a base there is not an occupation, as clerly obvious in Cuba,
> it doesn't even necessarily prevent enemy occupations.
>
> William R. James

Good point on grammar.

But you miss the point...one of the only rational reasons for the invasion
(in addition to fueling the military industrial complex) was to establish an
enduring military presence (as in Cuba, Japan and Germany) in the oil rich
Mid East.



JA
2005-04-27 15:53:14 EST

"Colin Campbell" <activated_95b@earthlink.net (remove underscore)> wrote in
message news:a8jv61h2drchat5d014f5micbli7lohje2@4ax.com...
> On 27 Apr 2005 09:09:30 -0700, rto.trainer@gmail.com wrote:
>
>
>>Nothing permanent about it. They are used *becuse* they are cheap and
>>easy to build and temporary.
>
> 'Cheap' and 'temporary' are the best words that can be used to
> describe these things.

Yes, the same 'Cheap' and 'temporary' "things" that exist in Cuba, Germany,
Okinawa, and Japan.



>
>
>
>
>
> "The commander in the field is always right and the
> rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise."
> General Colin Powell



Howard Berkowitz
2005-04-27 16:12:16 EST
In article <d4oqj9$os6$1@lust.ihug.co.nz>, "JA" <jasminae@yahoo.om>
wrote:

> "Colin Campbell" <activated_95b@earthlink.net (remove underscore)> wrote
> in
> message news:a8jv61h2drchat5d014f5micbli7lohje2@4ax.com...
> > On 27 Apr 2005 09:09:30 -0700, rto.trainer@gmail.com wrote:
> >
> >
> >>Nothing permanent about it. They are used *becuse* they are cheap and
> >>easy to build and temporary.
> >
> > 'Cheap' and 'temporary' are the best words that can be used to
> > describe these things.
>
> Yes, the same 'Cheap' and 'temporary' "things" that exist in Cuba,
> Germany,
> Okinawa, and Japan.
>
And your reference for the building inventory in each of these places is
exactly what?

Colin Campbell Remove Underscore>
2005-04-27 19:19:30 EST
On Wed, 27 Apr 2005 16:12:16 -0400, Howard Berkowitz
<*b@gettcomm.com> wrote:

>In article <d4oqj9$os6$1@lust.ihug.co.nz>, "JA" <jasminae@yahoo.om>
>wrote:
>
>> "Colin Campbell" <activated_95b@earthlink.net (remove underscore)> wrote
>> in
>> message news:a8jv61h2drchat5d014f5micbli7lohje2@4ax.com...
>> > On 27 Apr 2005 09:09:30 -0700, rto.trainer@gmail.com wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> >>Nothing permanent about it. They are used *becuse* they are cheap and
>> >>easy to build and temporary.
>> >
>> > 'Cheap' and 'temporary' are the best words that can be used to
>> > describe these things.
>>
>> Yes, the same 'Cheap' and 'temporary' "things" that exist in Cuba,
>> Germany,
>> Okinawa, and Japan.
>>
>And your reference for the building inventory in each of these places is
>exactly what?

Actually, she is making an idiot out of herself (as usual) as she
seems to think that c-huts are how we live in Japan, Germany and
Okinawa.





"The commander in the field is always right and the
rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise."
General Colin Powell

Wm James
2005-04-27 22:49:02 EST
On Thu, 28 Apr 2005 07:49:30 +1200, "JA" <jasminae@yahoo.om> wrote:

>
>"Wm James" <wrjames.remove@spamreaper.org> wrote in message
>news:8u8v619rdao567ut9stpodj5ukbfrqor7a@4ax.com...
>> On Wed, 27 Apr 2005 16:39:20 +1200, "JA" <jasminae@yahoo.om> wrote:
>>
>>>If the U.S. government doesn't plan to occupy Iraq for any longer than
>>>necessary, why is it spending billions of dollars to build "enduring"
>>>bases?
>>
>> We don't occupy Cuba, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, etc....
>> Having a base there is not an occupation, as clerly obvious in Cuba,
>> it doesn't even necessarily prevent enemy occupations.
>>
>> William R. James
>
>Good point on grammar.
>
>But you miss the point...one of the only rational reasons for the invasion
>(in addition to fueling the military industrial complex) was to establish an
>enduring military presence (as in Cuba, Japan and Germany) in the oil rich
>Mid East.

If you are suggesting that if the middle east had no oil nobody would
care and we wouldn't be there, no one would argue with that. Of
course it's about oil in that regard. But think about what you are
saying. If not for the oil, the dictator thugs there would have
nothing of value to anyone, including the terrorists. Do you think
Saddam would have donated millions to terrorists if he were living in
a tent or a grass hut ruling over a few thousand miles of useless
wasteland with no resources? Before the internal combustion engine,
the mid east was nothing but a big pile of sand with a bunch of bands
of ignorant superstitious kooks ruling over natives wiping their butts
with their hands. Even their sand is useless! Saudi Arabia has to
import sand for use in concrete because their windblown sand is too
slick. They would be meaningless to the civilized world if not for the
oil. When the oil became mportant and was discovered there, those
bands of ignorant superstitious kooks ruling over natives wiping their
butts with their hands suddenly found themselves with cash and lots of
it because people from the civilized world were willing to pay them
off, trade them cash to be left alone while they drilled and pumped.
Then, predictably, they got greedy and pretended to be governments of
nations instead of two bit thugs infecting an areas of real estate and
preying on it's natives. The civilized people found it easier and
cheaper to deal with the thugs and pay them off than to kill them. Now
we are paying the price for that error. While we paid them off, the
thugs used their wealth to build armies, to buy weapons, to further
entrench theor power over the natives they prey on, and to fund
terrorists to further their images and power. The US is starting to
take a little action to correct the errors we made in decades past and
that makes a base of two or five in the mid east very valueable.

William R. James

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