the Disillusioned kid: Qatar is the New Black
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Qatar is the New Black

Regular readers may be aware that the US base on Diego Garcia (which I've only just noticed has been dubbed -without a trace of irony, given the plight of its indigenous inhabitants - "the Footprint of Freedom") has been a crucial staging post for bombing runs against both Iraq and Afghanistan since the commencement of the "War on Terror". Now, however, acording to the Air Force Times (via) the US has decided to move its deployed B-1B Lancer's from Diego Garcia to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar:
The change puts the bombers several thousand miles closer to Afghanistan. The shorter flight times are expected to save the Air Force $132 million annually, a spokesman for Central Air Forces said.

The move will also lessen demand for tankers. Round-trip flights out of Diego Garcia required three aerial refuelings, while the current missions need one.

The move was phased in during the summer and became official Aug. 16.
Unfortunately this doesn't mean that the air force is leaving Diego Garcia anymore than it portends the closure of the base there. "A small contingent of airmen will keep the base ready for another influx of planes and personnel, if needed." Presumably such a need would arise in the event of an attack on Iran.

Quite apart from the interest it holds for Diego Garcia watchers, the article also serves as a reminder that the US is still bombing Afghanistan, almost 5 years after it was supposed to have been liberated.
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