Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Footprints of The Empire

    "There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest - why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, it was manifestly Rome's duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs."

...this was how Joseph Schumpeter described the Roman Empire's "manifest destiny" back in 1919.... sounds familiar??!!!

But to build/ maintain an Empire, it is necessary to have army installations across the regions.

A couple of days back when, when Gen. John Jumper, the outgoing US Air Force's Chief of Staff stated that US warplanes will remain in Iraq "more or less indefinitely", his statement got obscured in the news about Hurricane Katrina.

In fact, this was also not really a "news", since US has been building up 14 permanent military bases in Iraq since long (e.g., Camp Anaconda, 50 miles north of Baghdad, is already functional: it houses 22,000 soldiers, occupies a 15-square-mile compound with four dining halls, two swimming pools, a first-run movie theater and even a Burger King franchise).

In fact, most US military bases are made for a long time usage, with full amenities and conveniences. For instance:

Camp Bondsteel:

This 955 acres complex was established in 1999, after Kosovo was liberated (or "bombed to stone age", if you please, and the privatisation started). With a perimeter of around 7 miles, Bondsteel has two large dining facilites - besides, a 24-hour section for sandwiches, coffee, fruit, and continental breakfast items, salad bars, potato bars, etc. One can buy anything - from plastic bins to DVD players and TVs - from its two storied mechandise building, where Burger King, Anthony’s Pizza and a Cappuccino bar are also located. Naturally, there are living quarters for more than 7000 soldiers, the recreational facilities include gyms, basketball/volleyball courts, billiard tables, internet and video-conferencing facilties... And since, one is likely to stay there for a long time, one must not miss out on future career opportunities: The Laura Bush Education Center offers variety of college courses, and University of Maryland and Chicago University are represented at the base camp.

But such bases are only a very small slice of a much larger global presence.

According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" (2003)[pdf], the Pentagon currently owns or rents

  • 702 overseas bases
  • comprising of 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns (plus 4,844 leased facilties).
  • in about 130 countries
  • which deploy more that 250,000 uniformed personnel (and equal number of dependents and DOD civilian officials) - in addition to around 45,000 locally hired foreigners.
  • and has another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories.



    US Military Presence across the Globe


    Here are some snapshots of this network of installations:

    US European Command:

    Major Air Force Installations in Europe

    US has currently 259 military installations in 5 countries. These comprise of 62,000 active component troops and 3,000 reserve component troops in 19 brigade equivalents, supported by 11,000 civilians and 11,000 local national employees; with 100,000 family members and 4,000 retirees. This structure equates to a Total Army population of about 199,000 (a majority of which are in Germany).

    US Pacific Command:

    Okinawa Japan: occupied since 1945

    Okinawa, the southern most island of Japan, is the base for 2/3 of the 40,000 US troops in Japan, and "hosts" ten Marine Corps bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in the center of that modest-sized island's second largest city. (Manhattan's Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.).

    Okinawa is only one of the many installations US has in the pacific region. Others would include South Korea (95 installations - 41 troops installations, and 54 small camps and support sites); Guam (base for numerous naval commands, occupying 8,800 acres, and housing more than 7,000 army personnels); Thailand, Philippines, Australia, etc.


    Guam


    Central Command:

    US Presence in Middle-East & Central Asia

    Needless to point the obvious, this is the largest deployement of US forces right now (see the data on world-wide deployment of US troops)

    ...and the list goes on: Southern Command, School of Americas, Guantanamo Bay, Honduras, Bosnia, Panama, Peru, Ethiopia, etc., etc.

    It also explains the following diagram:


    Postscript:
    In a 1999 New york Times article - Manifesto for the Fast World - Tom Friedman (the current Earth-is-Flat enthusiast) had made an insightful observation/ provocation: "(Economic globalisation) requires a stable geopolitical power structure, which simply cannot be maintained without the active involvement of the United States.... The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist—McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps."

    Sources:
    Gen John Jumper's Statement
    Enduring Bases in Iraq
    Camp Bondsteel
    Operation: Enduring Presence
    The Next American Empire - The Economist article
    America's Empire of Bases
    DOD's Base Structure Report(2003)[pdf]
    Deployment of US Troops across the World

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