American troops in the Middle East are equipped with the most modern weapons, including armored vehicles.
On the eve of the US President’s visit to Saudi Arabia, scheduled for March of this year, the Armed Forces Committee of the House of Representatives of the US Congress discussed with the representatives of the Pentagon, Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of State the security issues of this region tasks.
Currently, the situation in a number of countries in the Middle East (BV) is becoming increasingly unstable. Crisis situations in this region are so dangerous that practically any, even minor conflict can quickly develop into a forceful confrontation on a global scale. The leaders of the Pentagon and the State Department believe that the processes currently taking place in the Middle Eastern countries significantly threaten the national security of the United States, its allies and partners, their interests and substantially destabilize security in the world.
PENTAGON AND STATE DEPARTMENT IN ONE BUNCH
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Alice Slotkin, spoke on the agenda of the hearings from the MoD. She said that the Defense Ministry provides assistance to the BV countries in the fight against terrorism, in countering aggressive actions against US allies and partners, in protecting ways of transporting energy resources, and in preventing the development, distribution and use of weapons of mass destruction.
The Middle East continues to be a vital strategic region for the United States. This position was repeatedly stated in the founding documents of the present White House administration, including the strategic defense guidance entitled “Maintaining Global Leadership: Priorities for the Defense of the 21st Century”. The document, signed by President Obama, was published by the White House in the early days of 2012.
Currently, US troops have been withdrawn from Iraq and will soon leave Afghanistan, and the Asia-Pacific region is becoming a priority area of operations. However, as stressed by Slotkin, the United States will continue to fulfill all its obligations to the BV countries and ensure the stability of the situation in their territories.
The Pentagon provides fulfillment of its obligations in several ways. First of all, it is the placement of well-armed military contingents at military bases of a number of BV countries. So, in close proximity to the Persian Gulf are the units of the Ground Forces, the Air Force and the US Navy with a total of 35 thousand people. At the airfields of the Middle East region, squadrons of the Air Force are based, equipped with the most modern technology, including fifth-generation F-22 fighter jets. In addition, reconnaissance and surveillance units are deployed in the territory of the BV countries with the appropriate equipment, which allows you to continuously monitor the situation in the waters and in the coastal zones of the Persian Gulf. There are also military contingents that solve the tasks of providing missile defense.
Currently, there are more than 40 Navy ships in the Persian Gulf, including the carrier strike group, which in the past six months have carried out about fifty commercial ships through the Strait of Hormuz.
For several decades now, the MoD has been actively developing bilateral relations with the BV states. A variety of forms of cooperation are used, including the sale of US weapons and military equipment to these countries, the allocation of funds to their Armed Forces, assistance in the implementation of national military development plans, joint research and development, the development of defense enterprises, and the training of military specialists. All this contributes to the achievement of mutual understanding with these countries and ensures the protection of US interests in the region.
The Pentagon pays special attention to the development of bilateral relations with Israel. According to Slotkin, at present the union of the USA and Israel is stronger than ever. The White House provides substantial financial assistance to this country in the implementation of military construction programs and the maintenance of high-quality military superiority of the Israeli armed forces over the armies of other BV countries. The Pentagon is actively cooperating with the State Department, seeking to achieve sanctions for the sale to Jerusalem of any of the latest military technology. The US Armed Forces constantly conduct joint exercises with the Israeli army to repel external aggression, train its specialists and participate in the implementation of a number of military programs, such as the program to create a tactical missile defense system "Iron Dome", for which America allocated 440 million last year. The creation of this missile defense system is not part of the 30 billion dollars that Israel should receive from the US in the next 10 years. America also continues to supply the most modern military equipment to Jerusalem, including the promising fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bombers and V-22 convertible planes.
The Pentagon continues to participate in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the normalization of relations between the two states and the resolution of existing problems. As part of these talks, President Obama, Secretary of State Carrie and Secretary of Defense Heigl decided to give former NATO forces commander in Afghanistan, retired General John Allen, full authority to analyze the situation between Palestine and Israel. The general and a group of his experts constantly meet with representatives of both sides and discuss with them the issues of ensuring their safety.
Assistant Secretary Ann Peterson explained the State Department’s position on developing relations with Middle Eastern countries to the committee members. She noted that the Pentagon and the intelligence community of the United States actively cooperate with the foreign affairs agency in this region and are doing everything possible to ensure the peaceful coexistence of its member countries, suppress the growing wave of terror and preserve the stability of the situation.
She stressed that the instability of the situation in BV is determined by the fact that 60% of its population are young people under the age of 30, almost a quarter of whom are out of work. At the same time, local youth are well aware of modern information technologies, are aware of all international events and are extremely indignant at dictatorial and corrupt governments that are not capable of ensuring economic stability.
The dissatisfaction of the majority of the population of this region with its position is the source of its extreme instability, the unpredictability of possible developments and opens up wider opportunities for extremist groups to replenish their ranks.
This state of affairs greatly threatens the national security of the United States and its interests in the bV. Therefore, the State Department, together with the security agencies, is taking all the necessary measures to maintain stability here, to ensure respect for human rights regardless of gender, social or religious identity, and to promote the sustainable economic development of its member countries.
Peterson reiterated to the legislators the foreign policy guidelines for the development of relations with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and a number of other BV countries that have been repeatedly voiced by the White House. As the representative of the State Department noted, the US diplomatic services in the Middle East, in addition to ongoing foreign policy actions, concluding contracts and creating various international institutions, are looking for ways of organizing interaction between the governments of its member countries and the business community to ensure the implementation of democratic transformations and stable economic growth.
POSITION OF HEADS
The position of the Chief Safety Officer on the issue of ensuring stability in the BV, strengthening the security of the states of the region, preventing or containing conflicts to parliamentarians was outlined by the Vice-Admiral Frank Pandolf, Director of the Policy and Strategic Planning Department of the Committee.
“Our interests in this vital and unregulated part of the world are very significant, and we intend to work with the states of the region to strengthen their security, ensure the containment of violence and prevent war,” the admiral said.
He stressed that “the US is seeking to stabilize the situation in this region, to weaken the rising wave of violent extremism and to counteract the spread and the possibility of using radical groups weapons mass destruction (WMD) against the United States, their allies and partners. However, as OKNSH believes, the United States is not able to solve all these problems on its own. Therefore, the Pentagon cooperates daily with all federal agencies, with State Department specialists and with the countries of the Middle East.
Admiral Pandolph told the committee members that the Pentagon’s mission to the BV could only be achieved by deploying forward-based military contingents and constant cooperation with US partners in conducting joint operations, training security forces and financing measures to strengthen military contacts.
The US military presence in this region is quite ambitious. Numerous Pentagon military contingents are concentrated at military bases in all BV countries. The main part of the American troops is deployed in the Gulf countries. They include units of the SV and KMP, armed with armored vehicles, artillery and attack helicopters, as well as highly professional special operations forces. In the territory of these countries, numerous aviation units, reconnaissance units and missile defense forces, including the Patriot air defense system. The naval group of the US Armed Forces in the BV includes aircraft carrier strike groups, missile defense ships, minesweepers and advanced floating bases. The total number of US troops in the Middle East is several tens of thousands of troops. Only in the Persian Gulf zone there are about 30 thousand.
American troops are constantly conducting joint exercises with the Armed Forces of the countries of the region in all areas of responsibility, including conducting land operations, fighting terrorist groups, operating on sea areas and maintaining a peaceful environment. This allows us to raise the level of professional training of American and national military personnel and their combat interaction. The US Central Command every quarter, on average, conducts large-scale 35 exercises jointly with foreign countries. Last year, an Eagle Resolve exercise was held in Qatar aimed at expanding US military cooperation with the countries of the Persian Gulf and ensuring interoperability of troops. 12 countries took part in them. In the same year, Eager Lion joint strategic exercises were held in Jordan, in which 8 participated thousands of troops from 19 countries. The main objective of these annual exercises was to strengthen cooperation and increase interoperability. Last year, international drills called the International Mine Countermeasures took place in Bahrain. They were attended by representatives of 40 States and 35 warships. As stated by the admiral, the types of the US armed forces annually conduct hundreds of similar exercises with their foreign partners.
The Pentagon in close cooperation with the State Department is actively conducting activities to strengthen cooperation with leading politicians and military leadership of foreign countries. This helps the US Department of Defense to understand the general perspectives of the regional security of the BV countries and to develop interaction with their military leaders. The large ranks of the Pentagon constantly take part in various international forums held in the BV countries. So, for example, in August last year, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Chief Security Service Department, participated in the conference of defense ministers of the BV states. Top leaders of the Central Command are in continuous contact with their colleagues in the region and participate in international conferences of military leaders of the armies of countries located in this region. According to the general, in such forums, the US military can listen to the opinions of their Middle Eastern counterparts, speak out about their support for America, and demonstrate Washington’s interest in the stability of this region.
The general also noted that he was selling the weapons they needed to the countries of the Persian Gulf and was training the personnel of their armies. Over the past 13 years, American experts have trained more than 3 thousand army officers of the BV states. In addition, the United States helps the relevant security forces of these countries in providing reliable protection of military and civilian facilities and in organizing the protection of their cyberspace.
While it is not entirely clear how the situation will continue to evolve, but it is absolutely clear that the Pentagon is not going to leave this region and most likely intends to stay here forever.