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CENTCOM: Pentagon says no plans to move US military base outside Qatar

A former US Secretary of State arrives at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 1 October, 2019

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Days after it temporarily switched its air operations to a base in South Carolina, US Central Command clarified it was not moving out of al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
The US Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it is not considering moving its Central Command (CENTCOM) operation based at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

"Qatar has always been an exceptional partner, and this base from which we are operating is a great base, and CENTCOM has no intention of moving anywhere," said CENTCOM's deputy commander, Chance Saltzman.

The clarification comes days after CENTCOM conducted its first successful operation to switch its air operations from Al-Udeid to Shaw Air Base in South Carolina on Saturday. 

The temporary switch, which lasted only 24 hours, suggests Washington is exploring its possibilities as tensions between it and rival Iran run high.

On a typical day at Al-Udeid, CENTCOM oversees as many as 300 US warplanes conducting operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"US forces will continue to use the Al-Udeid base in the future," said CENTCOM spokesperson Rebecca Rebarich.

The Washington Post was the first to report Monday that the United States temporarily moved the air and space operations center from Al-Udeid base to 7,000 miles away in South Carolina.

Air Force commanders told The Washington Post that although moving the base's functions to a different location was a "long-held ambition", recent events with Iran added "urgency" to the project.

"The functions that the CAOC provides for air power are so critical and so essential that we can't afford to have a single point of failure," Saltzman told the US daily, using an acronym for al-Udeid.

Analysts see the Al-Udeid base as a primary target should a war break out between the United States and Iran. 

The base's defence system is said to be ill-equipped to defend itself against the low-flying cruise missiles and drones believed to have been used in attacks on Saudi oil processing facilities.

In its report, The Washington Post said the current plan is to keep operations at Al-Ubeid running as usual except for once a month - when the center will be run remotely. 

Commanders hope this can be increased to where the center is run remotely for eight hours of every day.

CENTCOM controls US forces based across the Middle East and some of Central Asia - in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. 

It's main headquarters are located in Tampa Florida but it runs its daily combat operations from Al-Udeid air base located southwest of Doha, Qatar.


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