WASHINGTON — As American intelligence agencies grapple with the expansion of the Islamic State beyond its headquarters in Syria, the Pentagon has proposed a new plan to the White House to build up a string of military bases in Africa, Southwest Asia and the Middle East.
The bases could be used for collecting intelligence and carrying out strikes against the terrorist group’s far-flung affiliates.
The plan has met with some resistance from State Department officials concerned about a more permanent military presence across Africa and the Middle East, according to American officials familiar with the discussion. Career diplomats have long warned about the creeping militarization of American foreign policy as the Pentagon has forged new relationships with foreign governments eager for military aid.
Officials said the proposal has been under discussion for some time, including this week during a White House meeting with some members of President Obama’s cabinet. Shortly after General Dempsey retired in September, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter referred to the plan in a little-noticed speech in Washington. “Because we cannot predict the future, these regional nodes — from Morón, Spain, to Jalalabad, Afghanistan — will provide forward presence to respond to a range of crises, terrorist and other kinds,” Mr. Carter said. “These will enable unilateral crisis response, counterterror operations, or strikes on high-value targets.”
Pentagon planners do not see the new approach as particularly costly by military standards. One official estimated it could be in the “low millions of dollars,” mainly to pay for military personnel, equipment and some base improvements.
For the approach to have any chance of success, analysts said, regional American commanders, diplomats and spies will have to work closely together and with Washington — something that does not always happen now — to combat threats that honor no borders.
Continue reading, Pentagon Seeks to Knit Foreign Bases Into ISIS-Foiling Network.
These are all the countries where the US has a military presence
Mapping the growth of bases worldwide (August 2015)
Overseas Basing An Assessment of Relative Costs and Strategic Benefits (Rand, 2013)