Security: 20,000 GIs in Persian Gulf Region

Article excerpt

Ten years after the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. military presence in the Middle East is as strong as ever. From Turkey in the north to Saudi Arabia in the south, and from the Red Sea in the west to Kuwait in the east, some 20,000 U.S. airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines are spread throughout the region at any one time. The cost to the United States? At least $1.5 billion a year.

The cost of enforcing the Northern and Southern "No-Fly" zones is estimated at $1 billion a year alone. This task-which consists of containing Iraqi military flights between roughly the 32nd and 36th parallels-falls on the Air Force, mainly activated National Guard and Reserve pilots. In the north, airmen are based at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The Pentagon reported on June 30, 2000, that 1,781 airmen, including ground crews, were in Turkey.

The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain, patrols the Arabian Sea, which includes the Persian Gulf. As of Nov. 27, 2000, the Navy counted 20 ships; 66 aircraft and 11,871 sailors and Marines attached to this fleet.

On land, most U.S. troops are concentrated in five countries, according to the Pentagon's June 30, 2000, manpower report. The largest group-some 5,469-were in Kuwait. Saudi Arabia was hosting 5,397 U.S. troops, with 1,112 in Bahrain, 346 in the United Arab Emirates and 277 in Oman.

"I suspect that most Americans have no sense of the number of personnel we have in the Gulf region, or that they regularly engage hostile targets; said David Segal, a military affairs specialist at the University of Maryland. …