The new plan by the Obama administration will also beef up military ties with Arab states of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) and station additional combat troops in Kuwait “to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran,” The New York Times reports Sunday, citing ‘officials and diplomats.’
With a particular focus on “the threat of a belligerent Iran,” the report says, the US administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six members of the [P]GCC, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the US military are making additional efforts to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense, the report added.
The plans, under discussion for months, gained new urgency after US President Barack Obama’s announcement this month that the last American soldiers would return to the US from Iraq by the end of December, said the report.
After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative scheme.
In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering to station more naval warships in international waters of the region.
The size of the standby American combat force to be based in Kuwait remains the subject of negotiations, with an answer (from Kuwait) expected in the coming days.
In the time between the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States Army kept at least a combat battalion – and sometimes a full combat brigade – in Kuwait year-round, along with an enormous arsenal ready to be unpacked should even more troops have been called to the region.
The revelation comes following a Press TV report that the United States is also planning to set up an underground hangar complex in Iraq despite the deadline approaching for the withdrawal of American troops from the oil-rich Middle Eastern country