The US armed forces are planning to stay in Iraq for at least a decade, a media report claimed on Monday, quoting military strategists.
A report in Newsweek said that the 38 square kilometres mini-city and airport Balad was the evidence that American forces were preparing for the long haul.
With 27,500 landings and takeoffs a month, Balad is second only to London’s Heathrow Airport in traffic worldwide, Brig Gen Frank Gorenc, the base commander, was quoted as saying.
Gorenc said he was “normalising” the giant Balad airfield, or gradually rebuilding it to US military specifications.
The Saddam-era concrete is considered too substandard for the F-16s, C-130s and other aircraft that fly in and out so regularly that they crack the tarmac.
“It’s safe to say Balad will be here for a long time,” says Gorenc, who, the magazine stressed, felt at home in Iraqi skies, where the Air Force has been having its way since the first Gulf War.
“One of the issues of sovereignty for any country is the ability to control their own airspace. We will probably be helping the Iraqis with that problem for a very long time,” Gorenc said.
Calling it an image of what America’s long-term plans for Iraq looked like, the report said it was one of the four “super bases” where the Pentagon planned to consolidate US forces, taking them gradually from the front lines of the Iraq war. Two other bases were slated for the British and Iraqi military
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