Australian personnel at the Joint Defense Facility Nurrungar (JDFN), in the 'outback' in south central Australia. Their primary mission is the detection of ballistic missile launches by means of satellite. During the Gulf War, Nurrungar alerted Coalition forces of Scud launches from Iraq.
Finally, some 1500 active-duty US military personnel from the Navy, Marines and Army are based on the 2700 hectares at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Diego Garcia, the largest island of the Chagos Archipelago in the heart of the Indian Ocean. The forces are there with the permission of the British government, which administers the island as part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. Following the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Diego Garcia's strategic importance increased, and the base underwent the most dramatic buildup of any location since the Vietnam War, including the construction of a major air field. In addition to communications and support units, Diego Garcia is home to the US Navy's Patrol Wing One, which flies the P-3C maritime patrol aircraft, and to the Marine Corps' second Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS) Squadron. Diego Garcia played a major role during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent military operations in that region.
In addition to its remaining bases in the region, in recent years the United States has adopted a policy sometimes known as 'places, not bases', or more accurately, 'not bases but critical facilities access'. Thus, for example, Commander, US Logistics West Pacific, a small administrative detachment under a US Navy Rear Admiral, is located in Singapore, which also provides access to US air and naval forces. Access agreements have also been reached with Thailand (U Tapao airbase), Malaysia (Naval Base Lumut), Indonesia (Naval Base Surabaya) and Australia (training facilities in the north and east). The United States has also recently agreed with the Philippines government on the legal status of visiting military personnel, which (if ratified by the Philippines Senate) should facilitate access to Subic Bay and other facilities (see Chapter 9).
This brief overview of only the major US bases in the Asia-Pacific region reveals the great size and complexity of the infrastructure