Whose over there? How many? Whose with us?-- Another WTC thread

I know we have a base in Saudi Arabia. I believe we have a military base in Kuwait also. I just heard that the SAS will not confirm (nor deny) that they were fired on near Kabul. The other day my local newspaper said that a few carrier groups were “scrambling”.

What’s the straight dope on our military numbers in the Middle East right now?

I’m doing this from memory so my answer here is bound to be vague and probably wrong in some cases. Take this FWIW…

Several carriers have been sent near the region. I know the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk sailed from Japan a few days ago with a supposed destination of the Persian Gulf. I also seem to recall that two other carriers left the US a few days ago for deployment in the Mediterranean. Presumably we also have a carrier on station in the Persian Gulf anyway which would bring the grand total of carriers to four (don’t forget they sail with sizeable battlegroups for their protection…some of these will also have long-range strike capabilities in the form of cruise missiles).

In addition to those the US maintains several military bases in the region. We have a very modern airbase in Saudi Arabia but I’ve heard mixed reports about whether the Saudis will let us use it for attacks on Afghanistan. I believe there is also an army or Marine base in Kuwait and a naval base in Qatar (or the UAE?). On top of that there is the Incirlik airbase in Turkey and the naval base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. All of these bases support something 3,000 - 7,000 personnel in ‘regular’ times and serve as forward staging areas more than anything else which is to say that without reinforcement these bases are there to blunt attacks but probably aren’t capable of stopping a concerted attack on their own.

I have no idea of the number of troops the US plans on sending. This is going to be a different kind of war and so far the US has been (understandably) pretty mum about how it plans to prosecute this war. The Russians did not fare well in Afghanistan with lots of troops on the ground and I doubt the US want to repeat that experience. Unfortunately for the US there isn’t a whole lot to bomb in Afghanistan either so our vaunted airforce won’t be as useful (as I heard one pundit put it, “Bombing Afghanistan will just stir the rubble that is already there.”)

As for help around the region that’s all still up in the air as far as I can tell. The Pakistani government seems willing to help but they have a pretty vocal minority that is promising war against the Pakistani government and Americans if Americans are allowed to base themselves in Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia has been mostly friendly to the US in past years and they have no love for Osama bin Laden who has stated his desire to overthrow the existing Saudi government. The Saudi’s also kinda owe the US for putting the smack down on Saddam Hussein (we’ll never know but it seems likely Saddam would have eventually attacked Saudi Arabia if he was left un-opposed). As I said before I have heard mixed rumors about our use of the airbase there. Some rumors said the Saudis are prohibiting its use but I heard Colin Powell say that the Saudis are being very helpful.

Iran is a major powerhouse in the region and they are kinda stuck. Since the Shah was overthrown the Iranians have been consistently at odds with the US. Still, in the last few years they have actually piped down a bit and even made overtures at more friendly relations with the US. The Iranian clerics still seem to hate us as much as ever but the newly elected Iranian government has won overwhelmingly at the polls with a considerably more moderate stance. The Iranians also have no love for the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Even Iranians find the brand of Islam the Taliban espouses a bit strong for their tastes. I’m guessing if the US plays ‘nice’ (i.e. work on diplomacy and try not to be too imperialistic in its forthcoming attacks) Iran will probably sit on the sidelines helping neither side.

Our NATO allies still seem to be toeing the line so far and probably will continue to do so as long as Bush keeps them in the loop and as long as they don’t have to send their own troops (except for the British who always [thankfully] seem to stand next to Americans in these things).

Hope that helps…

The British were planning joint exercises with Omani forces before this all happened, so we happen to have quite a large force (for us, at least) in the area. There’s the carrier HMS Illustrious, the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the assault ship HMS Fearless, supported by two submarines (Trafalgar and Superb, both nuclear-powered attack submarines), two destroyers (Nottingham and Southampton), four frigates (Cornwall, Kent, Marlborough and Monmouth) and numerous support vessels.

The carriers manage around eight Navy Sea Harrier fighters and seven RAF Harrier ground-attack planes, plus around 35 helicopters of various types. The assault vessels will carry some or all of 3 Commando Brigade, with a strength of several thousand Royal Marines plus supporting artillery and helicopter units. I think elements of 1 Armoured Division, based in Germany, were also earmarked to take part, but I doubt you’ll see British tanks in Afganistan’s mountains.

The RAF has six Tornados in Saudi Arabia and eight more in Kuwait. Four RAF Jaguar fighter-bombers are located in Turkey, with the British garrison in Cyprus (3,000 troops, including two infantry battalions and a helicopter unit) also within reach. I would expect to see three or four squadrons of RAF Tornados arrive as things build up.

It’s also believed that an entire SAS regiment may be operating in Afghanistan already: around 700 men in small two-man reconnaissance patrols.

I hear on Channel 4 News that the Saudis do not allow the US to use their air base to lauch an attack on another Muslim country.

This air base is built by the bin Laden construction company. The bunkers in Afghanistan which may conceal Osama bin Laden are built by the CIA.