Gates: U.S. in Iraq for 'a number of years', but no desire for permanent bases
The U.S. has been 'upgrading' its major bases in Iraq over time. The 14-square mile Balad Air Base (pictured above) includes an olympic-sized swimming pool, five dining halls and a car dealership. The 19-square mile al-Asad Air Base includes a Burger King, a Pizza Hut and a car dealership. At Tallil, there's a mess hall for 6,000. The bases are tied into Iraq's electrical grid, another sign of permanence. But the U.S. insists that bases for 'long-term access' is a different thing than 'permanent'.
WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday the United States may have a military presence in Iraq for a "prolonged period" and drew a comparison with U.S. bases in Germany and South Korea.
Gates, however, also said the United States had no desire for permanent bases in Iraq and any long-term military presence in the country would be far smaller than the current force level of some 140,000 U.S. troops.
"I think that at a very much reduced level we will probably have some presence in Iraq, as we have had in Korea and Germany and a variety of other places around the world where we've been at war, for a prolonged period of time, a number of years," Gates told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.
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