Friday, October 12, 2007

The Future of America in Iraq and Iran?

Balad, Iraq: Reality and rhetoric so often clash when the US government is involved. Balad Air Base, 60 miles north of Baghdad, is a perfect example. As NPR reports, the military is planning for the future, and not the short-term. Construction is non-stop and some of the changes seem quite intriguing. Such as the airstrip improvements, and fast food restaurants.

From NPR:

The base is one giant construction project, with new roads, sidewalks, and structures going up across this 16-square-mile fortress in the center of Iraq, all with an eye toward the next few decades.
Balad Air Base is now the headquarters for an Air Force Expeditionary Wing; billions of dollars are being spent on upgrades at the base.
"The runway has been reworked; it was basically falling apart the last time we were here," said Col. Charles Croft, an F-16 pilot, who has watched the improvements over the years.

and this:

The Subway sandwich chain is one of several U.S. chains with a foothold here. There are two base exchanges that are about as large as a Target or K-Mart. Consumer items from laptop computers to flat-screen TV's to Harley Davidson motorcycles are available for purchase.
Those comforts, says Captain Shawn Scott, make life seem a little more like home

after listening to these comments, I felt a little confused. After all, I thought the plan was to turn over control of Iraq, and eventually leave the country. I was under the wrong assumption, I guess, in thinking that Iraq would not become South Korea, or maybe something completely new. Once again, NPR set me straight:

Back in Washington, Pentagon officials say that the U.S. military is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and that it will depart when asked to do so.
But several senior military officials have privately described Balad Air Base, and a few other large installations in Iraq, as future bases of operation for the U.S. military. The term used is "lily pad," a description of the military jumping from base to base without ever touching the ground in between.
And as the base's commander, Air Force Brig. Gen. Burt Field noted, the spot is an ideal staging ground.

That statement by General Field got me wondering: staging ground for what? Iran?

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