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I suspect all U.S. Generals in the Middle East are thinking “Thanks Trump, for putting a target on my back!” after Iranian Major General Qassam Soliemani, the head of the Quds Revolutionary Forces, was assassinated outside of Baghdad’s international airport by U.S. drone on the direct orders of President Trump.

As easy as it was for an American drone to blow up two vehicles in Soliemani’s convoy coming from the airport, it will not be difficult for Iranian forces to retaliate by targeting senior U.S. military and diplomatic officials. Senate Majority leader Mitchell McConnell’s comment that “our prayers are with U.S. diplomats and military in the region” is small consolation to those who will no doubt feel the brunt of Iranian ire over the assassination of one of the most popular leaders in Iran.  

Should Wikileaks ever have another Chelsea Manning or Ed Snowden that will provide the world with documents that reveal the Trump administration’s deliberations on the decision to cataclysmically escalate the confrontation with Iran, a country of 80 million that has been under U.S. sanctions since the 1979 revolutionary overthrow of the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran, we will finally find out who in the administration supported the decision and who was against it.

My guess is that the U.S. military was against the assassination knowing that U.S. military forces will get the brunt of Iranian retaliation.  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, “Damn right, this puts our troops at risk.”  I think he realizes that he himself would be one of the first retaliatory targets.

I would guess that the CIA was for the assassination, the CIA’s whose officials can generally hide from public view.  And it probably was a CIA drone, not a U.S. military drone that fired the missiles that assassinated Soleimani.  In 2017, Trump gave the CIA the authority to again use assassin drones after it had been withdrawn by the Obama administration. 

No matter who was for and against the assassination, when you look for targets for retaliation, there are many:  oil fields in Saudi Arabia, oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, big US military installations in Qatar (Central Command forward), Bahrain (5th fleet) and Djibouti (naval and drone bases)

Here are 36 bases with US Military forces in 14 countries that are neighbors with Iran.  Additionally, there is a U.S. Embassy in each of those 14 countries as well as in Lebanon that could be targets for retribution for the assassination of General Soleimani.

Afghanistan

Sharing its western border with Iran is Afghanistan. There are approximately 14,000 US military in Afghanistan and reportedly twice as many civilian contractors.  There are 17,000 NATO troops from 39 countries in Afghanistan. There are six active U.S. military bases.  The three major bases are listed below.

Bagram Air Base

Shindand Air Base in Heart Province

Kandahar International Airport

Bahrain 

There are over 7,000 U.S. military personnel based in Bahrain, and the U.S. has maintained a naval presence in the country since 1948. The U.S. 5th fleet is based in Bahrain and patrols an area of responsibility covering the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Red Sea, and the Arabian Sea, including the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb. 

Naval Support Activity Bahrain

 Shaikh Isa Air Base

Part of Bahrain International Airport.  

 Djibouti 

U.S. military presence in Djibouti was established in 2003 with a formal agreement that provides access to the airport through Camp Lemonnier and the port facilities. Since that time, Djibouti has hosted the only combat-capable U.S. military base in Africa, until the construction of a U.S. drone base in Niger. 

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 Camp Lemonnier

Egypt 

The U.S. military does not maintain combat basing in Egypt, despite the historically robust military cooperation between the countries since the conclusion of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The only U.S. military facility in Egypt conducts medical research. 

Naval Medical Research Unit Three (NAMRU-3)

Iraq

Since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011, the U.S. has not maintained permanent facilities in Iraq. As the U.S. presence in Iraq has evolved during the conduct of Operation Inherent Resolve, the primary U.S. presence appears to be located at Al Asad Air Base. 

Al Asad Air Base

Israel 

The U.S. has long maintained a security relationship with Israel, and in recent years has partnered to develop systems like the Iron Dome air defense system.  Ships of the U.S. 6th fleet frequently make port visits to Haifa, but the building of U.S. facilities in Israel is new. U.S. deployments to Israel are small and intended to support anti-ballistic missile emplacements. 

Dimona Radar Facility 

Mashabim Air Base / Bisl’a Aerial Defense School

Jordan 

The U.S. presence in Jordan has expanded with the evolution of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS, with forces located at Muwaffaq Salti Air Base. Publicly available commercial satellite imagery indicates the presence of potential U.S. reaper drones at other bases in Jordan, but this is not acknowledged by the United States. U.S. military cooperation with Jordan is close. Most recently, U.S. troops participated in the “Eager Lion” exercises, involving several thousand U.S. Marines training alongside Jordanian troops.

Muwaffaq Salti Air Base (Azraq)

 Kuwait 

The U.S. has maintained a Defense Cooperation Agreement with Kuwait since 1991 Persian Gulf War. As such, Kuwait holds major non-NATO U.S. ally status. Since 2011, troops garrisoned in Kuwait are primarily intended to support Operation Spartan Shield, a mission to “deter regional aggression and stabilize countries within the region.” The military currently maintains a force of 2,200 MRAPs in Kuwait.

 Ali Al Salem Air Base

Camp Arifjan

 Camp Buehring

 Camp Patriot

Oman 

The U.S. maintains an ability to use Omani bases through the Oman Facilities Access Agreement, originally signed in 1980, and most recently renewed in 2010. This accord made Oman the first country among the Persian Gulf States to explicitly partner militarily with the U.S. According to the agreement, the U.S. can request access to these facilities in advance for a specified purpose. Oman has allowed 5,000 aircraft overflights, 600 landings, and 80 port calls annually. During the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (in late 2001), the U.S. relied considerably on Omani air bases. However, in subsequent years, U.S. presence in Oman has dwindled significantly. 

Muscat International Airport

 RAFO Thumrait

Al-Musannah Air Base

Port of Duqm

 Port of Salalah

Qatar 

Qatar hosts approximately 10,000 U.S. service personnel, mostly at Al Udeid Air Base. Since the 1990s, Qatari base construction strategy has been deliberately intended to attract the United States to its facilities. As the U.S. withdrew the majority of its forces from Saudi Arabia in 2003 following the initial invasion of Iraq, basing in Qatar allowed for the permanent redeployment of those assets. The U.S. has relied heavily on its basing in Qatar to conduct the counter-ISIS military mission, Operation Inherent Resolve. 

Al Udeid Air Base

Camp As Sayliyah

Saudi Arabia 

The U.S. withdrew the vast majority of its forces in 2003, as the invasion of Iraq eliminated the need for a troop presence in Saudi Arabia. Today, many of the American military personnel still in Saudi Arabia are part of the U.S. Military Training Mission, and do not provide an operational combat capability. Undoubtedly, USMTM personnel travel and work at different Saudi bases to complete their mission, but the primary “basing” point is Eskan Village near Riyadh. 

Eskan Village

Syria

The U.S. withdrew from its 22 bases in Syria in October 2019 but has returned to six of them in northeast Syria.  U.S. forces in Syria are primarily guarding Syrian oil facilities.

Turkey

 Turkey is the only NATO member in the Middle East region

Incirlik Air Base

 Izmir Air Station

 United Arab Emirates 

The U.S. maintains approximately 5,000 personnel in the UAE under a defense cooperation agreement. The security relationship between the U.S. and UAE is robust, and has featured combat operations in Afghanistan in which UAE aircraft provided close air support to American troops on the ground.

 Al Dhafra Air Base

 Port of Jebel Ali

 Fujairah Naval Base

Citations

[1] Trump Broadens CIA Powers, Allows Deadly Drone Strikes - WSJ ➤ https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-gave-cia-power-to-launch-drone-strikes-1489444374[2] 6 US Military Bases in Afghanistan | MilitaryBases.com ➤ https://militarybases.com/overseas/afghanistan/[3]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[4]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[5] Opinion | An American General Probably Thinks- “Thanks Trump, for Putting a Target on My Back!” | Ann Wright ➤ https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/01/05/american-general-probably-thinks-thanks-trump-putting-target-my-back?cd-origin=rss#[6]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[7]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[8]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[9]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[10]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[11]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[12]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[13]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[14] US forces relocate its bases in Syria ➤ https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/us-forces-relocate-its-bases-in-syria-/1640096[15]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf[16]https://www.americansecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ref-0213-US-Military-Bases-and-Facilities-Middle-East.pdf