Col. Ann Wright (US Army, ret.) / Peace in Our Times – 2017-10-01 19:45:13
US Military Bases Spread Like Cancer Across the Globe
Ann Wright / Peace in Our Times
(Summer 2017 Issue) — Two hundred and seventeen delegates from 32 countries attended the Fifth International Seminar on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, held in Guantanamo, Cuba, May 4-6. The theme was “A World of Peace Is Possible.”
The focus of the conference was the impact of the military bases the United States and other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Israel, and Japan, have around the world. The United States has the overwhelming number of military bases in the lands of other countries — over 800.
Speakers included World Peace Council President Maria Soccoro Gomes from Brazil; Silvio Platero, president of the Cuban Peace Movement: Daniel Ortega Reyes, member of the National Assembly of Nicaragua; Bassel Ismail Salem, representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; representatives of the Okinawan movement against US military bases at Takae, Henoko and Futemna, and Col. Ann Wright of Veterans For Peace. Below are Wright’s remarks to the conference.
US Military Bases Spread Like Cancer Across the Globe
Ann Wright / Peace in Our Times: Veterans For Peace
Today at the Fifth Conference on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, with a new President of the United States, in office barely four months, who has sent 59 Tomahawk missiles into an air base in Syria and who is threatening further US military actions from North Korea to more attacks on Syria, I represent a group of veterans of the US military, a group that rejects US wars of choice and rejects the huge number of US military bases we have on the lands of other nations and peoples. I would like for the delegation from Veterans For Peace to stand.
We also have others from the United States here today, women and men who are civilians who believe the US must end its wars on other nations and stop killing their citizens. Would members of the CODEPINK: Women For Peace delegation, Witness Against Torture and US members of the World Peace Council, and US members of other delegations please stand up?
I am a 29-year veteran of the US Army. I retired as a colonel. I also served in the US Department of State for 16 years in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan, and Mongolia, the last four embassies as deputy ambassador or at times, acting ambassador.
However, in March 2003, 14 years ago, I resigned from the US government in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq. Since 2003, I have been working for peace and ending US military operations around the world.
First, here in the city of Guantanamo, I want to apologize to the people of Cuba for the US military base the US forced on Cuba in 1898, 119 years ago, the military base outside the United States that my country has occupied the longest in its history.
Secondly, I want to apologize for the purpose of the US Naval Base Guantanamo. I apologize that for 15 years, since January 11, 2002, the Guantanamo prison has been the site for the illegal and inhumane imprisonment and torture of 800 persons from 49 countries. Forty-one prisoners from 13 countries remain imprisoned there including seven men charged and three convicted by the US military commission court.
There are 26 indefinite detainees known as “forever prisoners” who will never receive a military commission trial because they would undoubtedly reveal the illegal, criminal torture techniques US officials, both CIA and US military, used on them.
Five prisoners were cleared for release, including two whose repatriation deals stalled at the Department of Defense in the last days of the Obama administration and who, tragically, probably will not be released by the Trump Administration. Nine prisoners died while at the US military prison, three of whom were reported as suicides but under extremely suspicious circumstances.
In the past 15 years, those of us on the US delegations have held countless demonstrations in front of the White House. We have disrupted Congress demanding that the prison be closed and the land be returned to Cuba, and we have been arrested and sent to jail for disrupting Congress.
During the Trump presidency, we will continue to demonstrate, disrupt, and be arrested in our efforts to close the US military prison and the US military base at Guantanamo!
US military has over 800 military bases around the world and is expanding the number rather than decreasing them, particularly in the Middle East. Currently, the United States has five major air bases in the region, in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Incirlik, Turkey.
In Iraq and Syria, US “lily pad” bases, or small temporary bases, have been created as the United States increases its sup port for groups fighting the Assad government and ISIS in Syria and support for the Iraqi Army as it battles ISIS in Iraq.
In the past six months, the US Air Force has built or reconstructed two airfields in northern Syria near Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan and two air fields in Western Iraq. US military forces in Syria are supposedly limited to 503, but troops who are in the country under 120 days are not counted.
Additionally, US military forces are using the military bases of other groups, including a military base in northeastern Syria, which is currently controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Syrian city of Al-Hasakah, located 70 kilometers from the Syrian Turkish border and 50 kilometers from the Syrian-Iraqi border. Reportedly, the United States has deployed 800 service men on the military base.
The United States created a new military base in the western part of Syrian Kurdistan, also known as Rojava. And it is reported that “a large group of the well equipped US Special Forces” is located at the Tel Bidr base, located to the north west of Hasakah.
The Obama administration had capped the number of US military in Iraq at 5,000 and in Syria at 500, but the Trump Administration is apparently adding another 1,000 into Syria.
Syria is the site of Russia’s only military bases outside of Russia with the naval facility in Tartus, and now at Khmeimim Air Base with Russia military operations in support of the Syrian government.
Russia also has military bases, and its military is using facilities in former Soviet republics through the Collective Security Treaty Organization, including two bases in Armenia; a radar and naval communications station in Belarus; 3,500 military personnel in South Ossetia, Georgia; the Balkhash Radar Station, the Sary Shagan anti-ballistic missile test range, and the Space Launch Center in Baikinor, Kazakhstan; Kant Air Base in Kyrgyzstan; a military task force in Moldova; the 201st Military Base in Tajikistan, and also a Russian Navy resupply facility at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.
The tiny, strategically located country of Dijbouti has military bases or military operations from five countries — France, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and China — China’s first overseas military base.
The US base, Camp Lemonnier at the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, is the site of a large drone base hub used for assassin operations in Somalia and Yemen. It is also the site of the US Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and the forward headquarters of the US Africa Command. It is the largest permanent US military base in Africa with 4,000 personnel assigned.
China is the latest country that has built a $590 million military base and port in Dijoubti only a few miles from the United States facilities in Dijbouti. The Chinese say that the base/port is for UN peace keeping and anti-piracy operations.
Additionally, the Export-Import Bank of China has eight projects in the region, including a $450 million airport in Bicidley, a city south of the capital of Dijbouti; a $490 million railway from Addis Abba, Ethiopia, to Dijbouti; and a $322 million water pipeline to Ethiopia. The Chinese also have created bases on atolls in the disputed areas of the South China Sea, creating tensions with Vietnam and the Philippines.
In support of US military operations in the Middle East, the US military bases in Greece and Italy — the Naval Support Group in Souda Bay, Crete, Greece, and the US Naval Air Station in Sigonella, the US Naval Support Group, and the US Naval Computer and Telecommunications Center in Naples, Italy.
In Kuwait, the United States has facilities on four bases including: three camps at the Ali Al Salem Air Base including Camp Arifian and Camp Buchring. The US Navy and Coast Guard use the Mo hammed Al-Ahmad Kuwait Naval Base under the name Camp Patriot.
In Israel, the United States has 120 military personnel at the Dimona Radar Facility, an American-operated radar base in the Negev desert as a part of the Iron Dome project — and located in the same area as the Israeli nuclear bomb facilities. One hundred and twenty US personnel operate two X-Band 1,300-foot towers — the tallest towers in Israel — for tracking missiles up to 1,500 miles away.
In Bahrain, the United States has the US Naval Support Group/Base for the Fifth Fleet and is the primary base for naval and marine actions in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and the Persian Gulf.
On Diego Garcia, an island whose indigenous population was forcibly re moved by the British, the US Naval Support Facility provides logistic sup port for the US Air Force and Navy to operational forces in Afghanistan, the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, including up to 20 pre-positioned ships that can supply a large armed force with tanks, armored personnel carriers, munitions, fuel, spare parts, and even a mobile field hospital.
This equipment was used during the Persian Gulf War when the squadron transported equipment to Saudi Arabia. The US Air Force operates a High-Frequency Global Communications System transceiver on Diego Garcia.
In Afghanistan, where the United States has had military forces for almost 16 years, since October 2001, the United States still has 10,000 military personnel and approximately 30,000 civilians working on nine bases.
US military bases are intentionally located near nations that the United States calls a threat to its national security. The bases in Germany, Poland, and Romania and frequent military maneuvers in the Baltic States keep Russia on edge. The US bases in Afghanistan, Turkey, and Iraq keep Iran on edge. The US bases in Japan, South Korea, and Guam keep North Korea and China on edge.
Our coalition of peace groups in the United States will continue to work to end US military bases in other people’s countries as we work for a peaceful world not threatened by the United States.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She was a US diplomat for 16 years and served in US Embassies around the world. She was on the small team that re opened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001.
In March 2003. she resigned from the US government in opposition to President Bush’s War on Iraq.
Since her resignation she has worked with many peace groups to stop the US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria and has been on Stop Assassin Drone missions to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, and other missions to North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. She is the co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.
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