Yasmeen Aftab Ali
More than any other country in the world, the US has the highest number of army personnel deployed around the globe, many of which are there for training exercises at safe bases. However, a very large number is deployed in conflict zones and potential hot-spots like Somalia. These soldiers include the Marines, Army rangers and Special Forces personnel.
As per a recent report, the US has 1.3 million troops posted around the world. Let’s take a look at some statistics here:
In Poland the US has 3,500 troops, in Ukraine the number is 250 National Guardsmen, Somalia has 40, Syria boasts of 200 American rangers and 500 members of Special forces, Iraq has between 4,000 to 6,000 US troops, Kuwait has 15,000. Afghanistan hosts 10,700 troops with a decision to induct another 10,000. A more recent report published in August 2017 states the number of troops deployed is around 12,000. A Business Insider story, from August 23 2017, states that “The number of troops authorised to be assigned to Resolute Force or U.S. Forces Afghanistan, the two military missions in Afghanistan, is 8,448. However, troops arriving or departing Afghanistan creates overlaps. Units and service members are also in the country on temporary duty, which is less than 120 days. With those additional forces, the actual number of troops on the ground in Afghanistan is between 11,000 and 12,000 officials said.”
In Syria, troops are supporting the Operation Inherent Resolve. Pentagon may be sending an additional 1, 000 troops here. In Poland, the US has sent its soldiers of 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team to be a part of the Atlantic Resolve. The Atlantic Resolve is aimed to stop Russian aggressive manoeuvres. On the other hand, Joint Multinational Training Group of Ukraine is being supported by the 250 Oklahoma National Guardsmen. The US 10th Airborne division deployed in Ukraine are helping the central government fight the terrorist outfit al-Shabab as well as training the government forces. In Kuwait, US troops are spread over Ali Al Salem Air Base, Camp Arifjan and Al Jaber Air Base.
To wipe off the Islamic State in Iraq, US troops are part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Iraq is a pointless invasion and destruction of a country on ‘bad intelligence’. The former secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, had in his speech in 2003 telecast on TV called it a ‘blot on his record’. He had given a detailed background of the weapons Iraq was purported to have which actually never existed.
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet is near Pacific Ocean and Japan, the 6th Fleet is near the Strait of Gibraltar and the 5th Fleet by Saudi Arabia. That’s not all, more recently two F- 35s each were dispatched to Estonia and Bulgaria. In South Korea US have 12 F- 16 fighters, and many B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers. In the trio: Kuwait, Syria and Iraq, as per a report, US has deployed 400 Airmen 5th Bomb Wing B-52’s from the 69th and the 23rd Squadron. The US has 85 military facilities spread over Japan as an inheritance of World War II. he US military presence in Turkey (Okinwa) still is a base of anti-American sentiments.
Also, in total, about 69,300 troops are assigned to Pacific Command, with 41,990 in Central Command, 34,520 in European Command, and 9,150 assigned to Africa Command, which is again a substantial number.
As a result of military expansionism and funding in various forms, it has led US to support governments and at other times offer support to rebel groups. It has led to the US flexing its muscles in areas that are incompatible with decisions for achieving greater world peace. Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is one such misguided decision.
A unanimous UN Security Council resolution calling for withdrawal of this decision was a severe rebuke to US on this unilateral decision. As per Reuters report, US threatened to cut off financial aid to all UN members that vote in favour of the UN resolution condemning US in her decision. The report said that “according to figures from the US government’s aid agency USAID, in 2016 the United States provided some $13 billion in economic and military assistance to countries in sub-Saharan Africa and $1.6 billion to states in East Asia and Oceania.”
Though the military presence worldwide may symbolise dominance in the international arena, it leads to more disadvantages than advantages. In Uzbekistan US supported Karimov a dictator famous for human right violations, yet US backed him in order to preserve its military bases. Their physical presence makes it easier for host governments to request intervention by the troops in need, embroiling US in wars not her own. It also leads to an anti-American feeling among the people where the troops are deployed. Most certainly it is no deterrent against any attack by any terrorist or miscreant organisation on US either.
US policy makers need to revisit their military deployment policy. Is it even ethical or useful to deploy troops in areas that pose no imminent or clear danger to US? Does history prove the success of following this foreign policy for achieving greater world peace?
The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets at @yasmeen_9