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Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:4AM
A file photo of US forces

A file photo of US forces

A US Senate report indicates that the United States has now nearly 15,000 troops in three bases across Kuwait- - triple the average number of American forces in the Middle Eastern country before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee released the report on Tuesday, considering how to promote the US interests in the Persian Gulf region after the American forces left Iraq last year. According to the report, having the military bases throughout the region is a "lily pad" model to allow for a rapid escalation of military forces. The Kuwaiti bases "offer the United States major staging hubs, training ranges, and logistical support for regional operations," the report said, adding, the "US forces also operate Patriot missile batteries in Kuwait, which are vital to theater missile defense." US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has recently said there are roughly 40,000 American troops in the area to respond to the region’s possible conflicts. The American forces have also been stationed in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby had said, "The secretary (of defense) has been very clear that while we do this shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific, that the Central Command area of responsibility will still remain a high priority." MSH/GHN
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