Escalation Nation: More US Bases in Iraq?
April 7, 2016
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & The Jerusalem Post & Lolita C. Baldor / Associated Press
As they continue to push for ever-more ground troops in Iraq, the Pentagon today confirmed that they are giving consideration to opening up more bases in the country, or potentially reopening bases from the previous occupation, with an eye toward getting more deeply involved in the war. The Pentagon is considering opening more small military outposts to provide artillery support and other aid to Iraqi forces in Iraq's combat zones.
Pentagon: US May Open More Bases in Iraq
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(April 6, 2016) -- As they continue to push for ever-more ground troops in Iraq, the Pentagon today confirmed that they are giving consideration to opening up more bases in the country, or potentially reopening bases from the previous occupation, with an eye toward getting more deeply involved in the war.
Rear Admiral Andrew Lewis talked up a single significant new base, to be operated similarly to the existing Firebase Bell, near Mosul, and also would consider other, smaller outposts to provide more artillery support in the fighting around Mosul.
Lewis downplayed the move to ground troops in Iraq, a war in which President Obama repeatedly ruled out the introduction of "boots on the ground," insisting that the ground troops are no different than war planes conceptually, and that they're just conducting surface-to-surface strikes instead of air-to-surface strikes.
It's hard to tell, indeed, if such bases aren't already happening, as Firebase Bell was operating for quite some time before the Pentagon was forced to admit to its existence when ISIS attacked the site and killed a Marine. They insisted they were planning an official announcement later that week.
The US has a treaty with Iraq capping the number of ground troops in the country at 3,870, though the Pentagon has conceded that they usually have in excess of 5,000 troops in Iraq at any given time.
US Military Could Open Another Base in Iraq
WASHINGTON (April 6, 2016) -- The US military could open another base to support Iraqi security forces as they look towards isolating the city of Mosul, a senior US military official said on Wednesday. Joint Staff Vice Director for Operations Rear Admiral Andrew Lewis told reporters that "there may be a situation in which there is another base that is opened or reopened from years passed that would be used in the same manner as a fire support base." Lewis did not provide further details.
Last month it was announced that a fledgling US base in northern Iraq came under attack from Islamic State. Firebase Bell, as the artillery outpost is called, is the first independent US base of its kind in Iraq since the return of American forces to the country in 2014 and is the latest sign of deepening US military involvement in the conflict.
Pentagon: US May Set Up
More Small Outposts in Iraq
Lolita C. Baldor / Associated Press
(April 6, 2016) -- WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon will consider opening more small military outposts that would provide artillery support and other aid to Iraqi forces as they prepare to retake the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants, a senior military officer on the Joint Staff said Wednesday.
Rear. Adm. Andrew Lewis, the vice director for operations, said there may be situations where the US would either open a base or reopen one that was used in the earlier Iraq war. Those outposts, he said, would be behind the front lines, and would be used the way US Marines are operating out of what has been known as Fire Base Bell, outside Makhmour.
Last month fewer than 200 Marines set up the outpost and provided targeting assistance and artillery fire for the Iraqis. It was the first time such a base had been established by the US since it returned forces to Iraq in 2014.
Initially military officials said the base was set up purely to provide force protection for Iraqi forces and US advisers at the nearby Iraqi base in Makhmour.
But soon after, the Marines were firing illumination rounds to help the Iraqi forces locate IS fighters, and also firing artillery rounds in support of the operation, as Iraqi troops took control of several villages on the outskirts of Makhmour, southeast of Mosul. The Marine remained well behind the front lines.
Lewis said that setting up another similar base as the Iraqi forces move toward Mosul is "dependent on what's happening on the ground" and in the military campaign.
"As Iraqi security forces progress toward isolating Mosul, there may be a situation in which there is another base," he said, adding that it could be a former US outpost and would be used to provide artillery fire from behind the front lines.
"Their mission is to provide fires and support of Iraqi forces, just like we do with airplanes, just it's surface-to-surface fires (versus) air-to-surface fires," he said. "Same concept, very accurate."
He added that additional security measures have been put in place at Fire Base Bell since an attack on the outpost several weeks ago.
Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin of Temecula, California, was killed by rocket fire in that attack. The Marines at the fire-base are part of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which has been based on the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship that has been deployed in the region.
Pentagon officials have said they are on a temporary, short-term deployment into Iraq.
During the years of the Iraq war, US forces set up a number of small forward operating bases or combat outposts around the country.
Lewis also noted there has been a recent name change for Fire Base Bell. It's unclear why the military changed names, but the new name -- the Karasoar Counterfire Complex -- reflects the Iraqi location and appears to focus more on its security mission rather than a combat role.
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