News   /   Military   /   Editor's Choice

American military bases in Middle East. Why does US have them?

America's Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar (Photo by Reuters)

The United States has military bases in around 150 countries, some of which are not officially classed as American bases and some are not formally acknowledged by the US. The number of bases in total exceeds 1,000 worldwide, many of them are located in the Middle East. 

It is not clear what the exact number of US troops in the Middle East is, but according to Pentagon data, America has about 54,000 troops in more than a dozen of Middle Eastern countries and is maintaining military bases in seven of them. 

According to the Pentagon's quarterly reports on US military personnel, published in November, the number of US soldiers and civilians working for the Department of Defense in the Middle East is 54,180, up from 40,517 during the first two quarters of 2017.

The report indicates that President Donald Trump increased the number of US troops deployed to Syria and the broader Middle East by about 33 percent over the last summer.

According to the survey, American troops are deployed to 14 Middle Eastern and North African countries: Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain.

Qatar hosts the largest US base in Mideast

Qatar hosts the largest US base in the Middle East. Al Udeid Air Base is located about 32 kilometers southwest of Doha and an estimated 10,000 American military personnel are deployed there.

Despite a recent war of words between the Qatari government and the Trump administration, Qatar’s defense minister has said Doha plans to expand the US military base.

“We have a big plan to expand Al Udeid to make it permanent,” Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah made the remarks during an event held by the Heritage Foundation, a US-based think-thank, in Washington, on Monday.

Qatar invested over $1 billion to construct the base which has a 366 meters long runway and is capable of accommodating up to 120 aircraft.

The airbase hosts the US Combined Air Operations Center which provides command and control of American and allied air power throughout the region, especially over Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

The US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain

The US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain (Photo by the US Department of Defense)

The oldest US military presence is based in neighboring Bahrain, which is home to the Naval Support Activity Bahrain and the US Fifth Fleet, which has been responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean since 1995. 

About 7,000 American troops are still based there, both at the naval installation and nearby Isa Air Base.

15,000 US troops in Kuwait

The United States still has about 15,000 troops deployed to Kuwait, and is still maintaining several bases in a country that is smaller than New Jersey.

The US first deployed troops to Kuwait in 1991 after then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the desert kingdom.  The US-led war defeated Iraqi forces and forced them to leave Kuwait but thousands of American troops are still based there.

9,000 US troops still stationed in Iraq

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis (L) is welcomed by Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend upon his arrival in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, on February 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

According to the Pentagon's quarterly reports on US military personnel, the US has more than 5,000 troops stationed in Iraq. But the US government’s own data has shown that there are about 9,000 American troops in Iraq, about 4,000 more than   the military has officially acknowledged.

5,000 troops deployed to UAE

The US has also about 5,000 troops deployed to the United Arab Emirates. There are also only 3,500 American military personnel stationed at the Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi, which is one of the key US military bases in the region. The US also has military base in Dubai.

US military personnel in Jordan 

The United States has stationed about 1,500 troops in Jordan, which has been a very close major non-NATO ally of the United States in the Middle East since 1996. 

In 2012, the CIA reportedly also trained Daesh terrorists in Jordan in order to destabilize the Syrian government.

US military base in Oman

The United States has a military airport near Thumrait, a town in Dhofar Governorate, Oman, where hundreds of troops are stationed.

According to some reports, the US also has some illegal bases in Syria, and even a base in occupied Palestine.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku