|Quoting Revelation (Reply 11):|
So, it seems there's interest in a long term presence at Al Assad.
The Iraqis of course want to assert their Sovereignty (as they should), plus the US even under the Bush Administration wants to draw down combat forces. However at the same time a lot of precious blood and money have been invested in Iraq and I feel the US has both the political and moral authority to continue to participate in some (reduced) level in the area.
As pointed out in the article the Kurds and the Sunnis want the US forces to stay in their areas as protection and a counter balance to the Shia majority who are now controlling Iraq, it's ironic that the Sunnis in Anbar Province were the ones giving the US the biggest, bloodiest fighting of the entire Occupation but are now working hand in hand with the US and are US allies.
The transformation of US force structure in Iraq is already underway, the US just turned over the green zone to Iraq and the Marines are now out of Fulujah the scene of some of the fiercest combat of the occupation. US forces will continue to draw down and pull out of the Cities and onto fewer but larger "enduring" bases, by purpose everyone involved are vague about details but for the most part US Forces from what I can gather from various articles and interviews will eventually remain in Iraq at a much reduced force level on 4-5 major bases (mostly airbases) spread throughout the Country. One definitely as we're discussing is Al Assad. It's really perfect because it's a huge sprawling facility in the Middle of the Desert with no Iraqi population center anywhere near the place, air operations and training can be conducted there and no one would know. It's also in a key location near the Syrian Border.
Besides Al Assad the only other base I would assume would be at the top of the enduring list would be Balad (Camp Anaconda), besides those two the other 2-3 enduring bases I'm not so sure of.
From what was written in that article and from what I've read elsewhere the Kurds would like US forces in their area for protection as well as to keep an eye on their oil fields, that would mean Camp Renegade (Kirkuk Air Base) would be the 3rd Enduring base. The good part about Kirkuk is that it's near the largest Oil fields in Iraq plus it's very close to the Iranian border, the downside is that it's right near a large city.
Al Assad, Balad and Kirkuk are definitely not going anywhere, the fate of some other large bases I'm not sure of:
Tallil Air Base (Southern Iraq)
Camp Speicher (Tikrit)
Camp Taji (North of Baghdad)
Al Taqqadum air base (West of Baghdad)
Camp Liberty (Baghdad Airport)
Camp Victory (Baghdad Airport)