The Pentagon has proposed the White house to build a network of its military bases in Africa, South West Asia, and the Middle East, as the ISIS expands well beyond its headquarters in Syria.
The bases would act as hubs for Special Operations troops and intelligence to conduct counterterrorism activities.
The Obama administration is debating on how to differentiate between the groups that pose immediate threats to the Unites States and Europe, and those who indulge more in regional activities. At least eight regional groups have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State.
The New York Times reported that shortly after General Dempsey retired in September, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, referring to the plan said, “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.
“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. These will enable unilateral crisis response, counterterror operations, or strikes on high-value targets.”
The Pentagon’s proposed new network of bases would include four “hubs” — including expanding existing bases in Djibouti and Afghanistan — and smaller “spokes,” or more basic installations, in countries like Niger and Cameroon, where the United States now carries out unarmed surveillance drone missions
The hubs would range in size from about 500 American troops to 5,000. The size of the bases will most likely depend on the regional threat. The Pentagon plans a hub in the Middle East, possibly Erbil, in northern Iraq, where many of the 3,500 American troops in Iraq are based.
The intelligence agencies were generally unanimous in their view that the ISIS affiliate in Libya and some of the other franchises had strong ties to the group’s leaders in the Islamic State.
There is greater uncertainty about groups like Boko Haram, a Nigerian-based Islamic militancy responsible for years of destruction in north-central Africa. The group announced its allegiance to the ISIS this year, but American officials seem to disagree on Boko Haram’s bonds to the Islamic State, being strong or the group’s influence being more focused regionally.
The ISIS welcomes all opportunities to build its global brand. Its affiliates include a variety of different identities and agendas — and some might not be fully assimilated into the Islamic State.
The plan was met with some resistance from the State Department officials amidst fears of the militarization of American foreign policy as the Pentagon has forged new relationships with foreign governments eager for military aid.
Former CIA official Larry Johnson stated the following in an interview with the RT.
“I would classify this both as a head-scratcher and an overreaction. Number one; there are already bases out there that are being used in certain places. Number two, to expand bases implies that you are going to expand special operations forces. Candidly, there is a reason you call them special operations forces because not everybody can do it. So, it is going to somehow suppose that you are going to be immediately be able to boost those numbers which, I think, is highly unlikely. The third, more important point is that the strategy that has been employed, that has relied almost exclusively on special operation forces over the last twelve years in my view has largely failed. Why do I say it failed – if you look at the number of terrorist attacks, the number of terrorist casualties, or casualties inflicted by terrorist groups, as well as the number of countries in which…militants…are operating, those numbers are going up, they are not going down. So, the notion that special operations forces are some sort of magical solution, for defeating this threat – I think is frankly absurd. “
Whether the new network of military bases proves to be beneficial, or raises doubt in the minds of countries like Iraq due the increased military presence is something which needs to be watched.