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Pentagon Plan to Beef Up Afghan Base Near Iran May Rile Regime

By Tony Capaccio | Bloomberg | May 21, 2010

A U.S. plan to upgrade its airbase in southwestern Afghanistan just 20 miles from Iran’s border will likely rile the Islamic regime, bolstering suspicions the West is trying to pressure it with military might, analysts say.

The Defense Department is requesting $131 million in its fiscal year 2011 budget to upgrade Shindand Air Base so it can accommodate more commando helicopters, drone surveillance aircraft, fuel and munitions.

Plans to expand the base come as the U.S. works to strengthen the militaries and missile defenses of allies in the region and presses at the United Nations for a new round of sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to curb its nuclear program.

U.S. military officials say the base is only to support U.S. and Afghan military operations in Afghanistan. Iran will likely view the Shindand buildup as another step to squeeze it, said Kenneth Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“Whatever U.S. intentions, the Iranian regime will see it as a threat — as another American effort to surround Iran with U.S. military forces,” Pollack said in an interview.

“The Iranians are almost certainly going to assume that a beefed-up intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance presence is really about spying on them,” he said.

Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, shares that view.

“The positioning of the base gives us the opportunity to monitor any efforts by Iran to serve as a sanctuary for anti- government Taliban and allied forces, and to support operations in Iran itself if that were to become necessary,” he said.

Sanctions

The Pentagon planning for Shindand comes as the U.S. is helping to strengthen missile defense systems in Israel and allied nations in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. Navy is coordinating its ship-borne Aegis missile defense with Israel’s land-based systems, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other top U.S. military officials have encouraged Persian Gulf nations to strengthen and coordinate their individual defenses.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also are upgrading their air, ground and naval forces, spurred by Iran’s military buildup.

The United Arab Emirates has spent $18 billion since 2008 on U.S.-supplied training, munitions and equipment such as the Patriot missile defense built by Lockheed Martin Corp.

Fighter Jets, Missiles

Saudi Arabia has bought 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets and is in negotiations to buy 24 more. The nation also has bought Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided equipment to enhance the accuracy of its air-to-ground missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and U.S. kits to upgrade Apache helicopters and armored personnel carriers.

“We have worked hard in the region to build a network of shared early warning, of ballistic missile defense and of other security relationships,” General David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in the Middle East and Central Asia, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 16.

Strengthening Gulf partners is important because containing Iran “will be a challenge as long as Iran’s theocracy keeps building asymmetric forces, moving towards nuclear capability and using proxies and non-state actors in neighboring states,” Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said.

Asymmetric forces are used in an attempt to offset the capabilities of a more advanced military foe. Iran might deploy speedboats in a swarm to attack U.S. warships, military officials have said.

Containment Strategy

Iran will view the U.S. base expansion and acceleration of “missile defense and other systems in the Gulf states” as part of a containment strategy, said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst with the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.

The U.S. should be prepared for what could be a vigorous reaction, he said. “‘Iran will almost certainly respond by stepping up weapons shipments to Taliban militants in Herat and Farah provinces, and Tehran might direct these militants to use the assistance to attempt attacks on the airfield,” he said.

Pollack gave a similar warning. “We need to go in with eyes wide open that we could be provoking them,” he said. “We should not be expanding our operations in this area unless we are ready to deal with the potential.”

Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst for the Brookings Institution who is in Afghanistan, said he heard from U.S. military officials that Shindand is in line for “a limited tactical expansion for Afghan-specific purposes.”

“I think it would be a big mistake to provoke Iran with an airfield actually designed for possible operations there and potentially encourage Tehran to up its involvement in Afghanistan,” O’Hanlon said. “So I am hoping that we have no such designs and doubt that we do in fact.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

May 21, 2010 - Posted by | Aletho News, Militarism, Wars for Israel

7 Comments

  1. ObaMao is very bad medicine because the warmongering is escalating and rumors of wars are on the increase. To be a possible one term president,he has done up to now enough damage to this country that it would be a relief when he goes.

    Comment by B. Benhamid | May 21, 2010

  2. Another example of the alliance of the pentagon, US media and zionist sympathizers to provoke a military confrontation with Iran. This increases the possibility of an accidental event setting off military operations. This is apparantly what the Israel lobby desires: US military personnel on the line for Israeli expansion interests.

    Comment by Robert J Molineaux, Redfield, New York | May 21, 2010

    • This also sheds some light on the actual motive for the ongoing US presence in Afghanistan – keeping Iran surrounded and under immediate military threat.

      Of course another proven outcome has been utilization of Afghanistan as a springboard from which to destabilize Pakistan.

      Comment by aletho | May 21, 2010

  3. […] Read more… […]

    Pingback by Pentagon Plan to Beef Up Afghan Base Near Iran May Rile Regime : | May 22, 2010

  4. Is US strategy of surrounding Iran something like the cartoon of the circular firing squad aiming at the guy in the middle of the circle? Is it wise to put the bases for your cartoon strategy among allies of your target? YIKES.
    Maybe I spent too much time in the brown shoe army. regards.

    Comment by rduanewilling | June 4, 2010

  5. Unfortunately, if ObaMao disappeared into thin air right this moment, there’s Joseph ‘izrael first’ Bidet boy who steps up and hooks the zionist control lines to his arms, legs, and lips. It never ends, no matter which feckless turd marionette is in Orifice. They’re all puppets.

    Today puppet boy celebrated his ‘last’ birthday probably, for he certainly knows they’ll have to ‘off him’ before the 2012 election strictly to retain power. His only life saving or self-preservation act would be to ‘resign’ for personal reasons and get the hell out of there before someone murders his outlived his usefulness ass just so they can install another feckless turd puppet just like him, as is his VICE (aptly named) zionist second in corn-mand.

    the war is also a strong possibility to save the illegitimate government, for a little while longer, because they’ll absolutely have to declare martial law when they strike Iran, because of the almost instantaneous unrest here in this country over that shit.

    desperate puppets get desperate control movements from their oh so very frightened and EXPOSED rothschilds handlers, and we’re in for some very nasty shit due to the ‘scared rat’ syndrome, I’m afraid.

    Comment by ObAmAo is just a Puppet, isn't in charge of anything except the janitorial duties in the Whore House | August 5, 2010


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