U.S. to keep forward command in Qatar

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The U.S. military plans to maintain its forward command headquarters in Qatar.

Officials said Central Command has been satisfied by the facilities and services provided by the emirate over the last year. They said Qatar served as the mobile command and control headquarters for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

In 2003, Qatar hosted U.S. Central Command Forward Headquarters, which directed the ground war in Iraq and provided a real-time situation picture to military chiefs in Washington. The United States also deployed Central Command's 9th Air Force Air Operations Center, which was transferred from Saudi Arabia.

"Our staff will remain forward in Qatar extensively, especially during this period of multiple transitions in Afghanistan and Iraq," Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid told the House Armed Services Committee on March 3.

Abizaid said Central Command will improve its facilities in Qatar. He said the new Al Udeid air base will serve as the hub of U.S. military operations in Qatar. The air base houses U.S. Air Force F-16 and other fighter-jets for operations throughout the Persian Gulf.

"Eventually, the Centcom forward headquarters will move to Al Udeid airfield from Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar," Abizaid said. "This will increase our efficiency and allow us to reconstitute our mobile headquarters capability for other contigencies."

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