Saturday, April 21, 2007

737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire

The title link is a post from European Tribune that got me to thinking and looking into the supposed 750 bases around the world. This post will not cover this issue in depth enough to break down this number but will try to address how Chalmers Johnson thinks about these concepts.
It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries -- and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more. America's Empire of Bases

So there is 702 bases but no knowledge of what they signify, but note that it says owns or rents the bases. Why are we concerned about replacing them? I mean if we are to reduce our penetration and presence then this should be counted as assets to be sold for a profit. Note this was dated as January 2004 and then in February 2007:
It is not easy, however, to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records available to the public on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual inventories from 2002 to 2005 of real property it owns around the world, the Base Structure Report, there has been an immense churning in the numbers of installations.

The total of America's military bases in other people's countries in 2005, according to official sources, was 737. Reflecting massive deployments to Iraq and the pursuit of President Bush's strategy of preemptive war, the trend line for numbers of overseas bases continues to go up. 737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire

Now the numbers have gone up but the USA now "owns" them all? The question does arise whether the bases in Iraq are permanent or not.

Going back to that 6000 number of bases in the USA mentioned earlier, we can hardly see over 100 bases per State at List of United States military bases. So it looks like to make that 6000 number you need to count all pieces of property and not actual bases, and obviously this number includes all: Barracks, Camps, Facilities, Fields, Forts, Points, Ports, Posts, Stations or any old outhouse that the military either owns or leases. So if number of bases is grossly exaggerated in regard to domestic bases, then what says that he has not grossly overestimated foreign bases?
For Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan, which has been an American military colony for the past 58 years, the report deceptively lists only one Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact Okinawa "hosts" ten Marine Corps bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in the center of that modest-sized island's second largest city. (Manhattan's Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.) The Pentagon similarly fails to note all of the $5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.

Yes, so Johnson brings up Japan as under counting bases. Japan has stationed there 40,045 troops according to US bases around the world. But taking the average base holding a population of around 5,000 (average of McChord and Vandenberg, then we only have room for 8 bases for one of the USAs largest deployments by a nation.
With more than 2,500,000 U.S. personnel serving across the planet and military bases spread across each continent, it's time to face up to the fact that our American democracy has spawned a global empire.

Well we can already see that he is lying. Serving means that they are actively on duty but in reality there is 1,426,713 active members and 1,259,000 personnel in the seven reserve components which should make the total as 2,685,713 (from US Armed Forces).
Though this may sound plausible enough, in basing terms it opens up a vast landscape of diplomatic and bureaucratic minefields that Rumsfeld's militarists surely underestimated. In order to expand into new areas, the Departments of State and Defense must negotiate with the host countries such things as Status of Forces Agreements, or SOFAs, which are discussed in detail in the next chapter. In addition, they must conclude many other required protocols, such as access rights for our aircraft and ships into foreign territory and airspace, and Article 98 Agreements. The latter refer to article 98 of the International Criminal Court's Rome Statute, which allows countries to exempt U.S. citizens on their territory from the ICC's jurisdiction.

Such immunity agreements were congressionally mandated by the American Service-Members' Protection Act of 2002, even though the European Union holds that they are illegal. Still other necessary accords are acquisitions and cross-servicing agreements or ACSAs, which concern the supply and storage of jet fuel, ammunition, and so forth; terms of leases on real property; levels of bilateral political and economic aid to the United States (so-called host-nation support); training and exercise arrangements (Are night landings allowed? Live firing drills?); and environmental pollution liabilities.

OK sounds reasonable. So is he counting all these SOFAs, Article 98 Agreements, and ACSAs as "bases" or are they just nothing more than storage facilities or facilities that facilitate deployment but not actually anything of substance as in a "base".

Links:
excerpted from the book: The Sorrows of Empire

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