U.S. military sees long-term stay in Qatar

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The United States envisions a long-term military presence in Qatar.

U.S. officials said the Defense Department has drafted plans and contracts for a significant U.S. Army and Air Force stay in Qatar until the end of the decade. They said the Al Udeid air force base would be the leading facility for the deployment of U.S. military personnel and aircraft.

The United States expanded its military presence in Qatar in 2002 in preparations for the war in Iraq in March 2003. The two countries signed a long-term military cooperation agreement to facilitate the U.S. presence after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Middle East Newsline reported.

So far, the Pentagon has awarded at least one contract that envisions a significant U.S. fighter-jet presence in Qatar until at least 2010. The Pentagon has awarded a U.S. firm a contract to provide fuel and related facilities to support the U.S. aircraft presence at the new Qatari air force base at Al Udeid.

The Al Udeid base was completed in 2003 and meant to house the air force's mobile command and control headquarters. The facility was located in the A-Sayliyah army base during the Iraq war and early 2004.

Al Udeid has a 15,000-foot runway, the largest in the Middle East and is meant for the B-2 strategic bomber.

The Pentagon has awarded a $112.5 million contract to Fueling Systems Contractors for supplying fuel facilities and equipment and fuel services to support the U.S. Air Force in Qatar. The work will take place at Al Udeid.

A Pentagon statement said 20 contractors were solicited and three responded. The statement said the contract will be completed in 2010.

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