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U.S. downsizing in Gulf, quitting Camp Snoopy

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

ABU DHABI The United States plans to reconfigure its military presence in Qatar.

U.S. officials said Central Command will abandon at least one military installation and remain in other facilities in wake of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The officials said the United States has been reducing its force level throughout Qatar as the war has wound down.

Central Command plans to abandon Camp Snoopy, a U.S. installation at the Doha airport that held combat aircraft and military equipment. The facility served as a supply base for transport aircraft operating in the region.

The U.S. Air Force EC-130 Commando Solo airborne broadcast station flew from the camp for daily missions over Iraq. The EC-130 broadcast surrender instructions to the Iraqi military as part of psychological warfare operations.

About 800 U.S. military personnel remain at Camp Snoopy. During the height of the U.S. war in Iraq the military population reached 1,800.

Officials said the air force and Central Command will end flights from Camp Snoopy over the next three weeks. In another month, the U.S. military presence will terminate and the camp will be closed.

Central Command also plans to reduce its presence at A-Sayliyah base, officials said. The base held a command and control facility that directed air and ground operations in Iraq.

U.S. military chiefs have discussed with Qatar the configuration of forces in the emirate. Over the weekend, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, met with Qatari leaders.

"The fact that our military operation happened as quickly as they did is in many ways a result of the sort of cooperation we got from the governments in the region, and definitely the Qatari government was very helpful," Myers said.

Officials said the United States has transferred its air operations headquarters for the Persian Gulf region from Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan air base to the Al Udeid air base in Qatar. Officials said the military presence at Al Udeid will be reduced from the current 1,500 to about 500.

Al Udeid will continue to be developed in a $1 billion project to allow the U.S. Air Force to land anything from F-16 multi-role fighter to B-2 heavy bombers, officials said. They said most of the F-15 and F-16 fighter-jets would be removed, but support and transport aircraft would remain at the base.

About 6,000 U.S. military personnel, mostly from the air force, are in Al Udeid. Officials said the military plans to complete permanent housing for aircraft crews and pilots by September.

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