NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Transforming U.S. Defense

September 9, 2003

The key to preempting terrorism, say Thomas Donnelly and Vance Serchuk, is to realign the network of American military bases and installations overseas so that U.S. forces can identify and neutralize terrorist threats wherever they may appear. Changes in the U.S. military are already occurring:

  • In Europe, Pentagon officials want to create new, "forward operating" bases in Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland) that can project power quickly into the Middle East and the Caspian Sea region.
  • Although the Pentagon is withdrawing forces from Saudi Arabia -- thus denying Osama bin Laden one of his main grievances -- the United States will maintain a presence in strategic airbases around the Persian Gulf.
  • America's first long-term military base in sub-Saharan Africa was established last year in Djibouti, a tiny nation just 30 miles from the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Defense officials are also considering semi-permanent bases in North and West Africa, an area of strategic interest marked by radical Islamism and oil wealh.

Redeploying troops and reorganizing bases to be more mobile and responsive are the first steps in modernizing the military for the 21st century, say the authors.

Source: Thomas Donnelly and Vance Serhuck, "Toward a Global Cavalry: Overseas Rebasing and Defense Transformation," National Security Outlook, July 2003, American Enterprise Institute.


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