5 Controversial U.S. Military Bases Not in Iraq or Afghanistan

Vanessa Estime

When one thinks of U.S. Military bases, the first instinct is to think of one place where they could be located—the Middle East. Believe it or not, the U.S. Defense Department is occupying forty six different countries, with American territories making up a grand total of 837. But how much do these eight hundred plus locations cost to manage, including the troops, bases, fleets, and materials? The exact number is hard to figure out, but here is a list of American bases that have proven—in the public’s eyes—to be extremely costly and controversial at the same time.

First, located in the Indian Ocean, is the very secluded Naval Support Facility, which has 595 buildings on 7,000 acres. This location happens to carry a hefty $2.6 billion price tag. The location is perfect; it is close enough to the Middle East to launch B-2 bombs into Afghanistan. It is also within flying distance of Africa, and has the ability to daunt China. Being secluded has its benefits, including a minimal threat of a counter-attack while giving safety for refueling aircraft carriers and bombers. On the other hand, there is some criticism surrounding this base. Almost the entire island is used for military facilities, which has been driving out the natives. These natives assert that they were rounded up, shipped to, and dumped in British island territories without any of their belongings into slums. Also, the facility is also believed to house covert CIA prisons for American enemies.

Next, the Incirlik Air Base can be found in Southern Turkey, where it houses 675 buildings on more than 3,000 acres of land and carries a price tag of $1.7 billion. This air base has proven to be vital in the wars of the 21st century. It was not until September 11, 2001 that the base began to be utilized, when it became an important launching pad for U.S. refueling missions and troop movements into Iraq. Also, the base houses nuclear bombs, which discourages Iran from any possible nuclear attacks. Additionally, the nuclear weapons are a sore point for Russia because of its proximity to the base. Even though the bombs have proved to be out-dated, they still irritate Russia and continue to hinder compromises.

Thirdly, a familiar name comes to mind: the Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay. 1,400 buildings can be found there on the 28,800 acres of Cuban soil. Obtained through the Spanish-American War, Guantanamo Bay is a refueling stop and a logistics center for Caribbean anti-narcotics missions. More notable, however, this outpost is more known as a maximum security prison for “war criminals” and prisoners, including main Al Qaeda figureheads. Critics have complained that Guantanamo Bay is synonymous with human rights abuses. President Obama has proposed to move the detainees to a high security facility in Illinois, while the former advisor to Senator Ted Kennedy recommends turning the site into a disaster relief center for Haitians affected by the January earthquake.

The Transit Center at Manas (previously known as the Manas Air Base) is the next controversial base. It is located near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital. Annual rent is an enormous $63 million with 37 acres of land and more than 200 buildings. A quick trip away from the combat zone, this hub gives help to U.S. troops going into or out of Afghanistan. The Kyrgyzstan government allows the United States to launch bombers, jets, and gunships from its land unlike other nations. In opposition, this host country has faced immense pressure from Russia to do away with the U.S. base with a $2 billion loan. However, the United States made an agreement with Kyrgyz leaders to raise their annual rent to the current price—$63 million.

Finally, on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, there is the Kadena Air Base. It houses 1,850 buildings on almost 11,000 acres of land and is worth $6.4 billion. Beginning after World War II, this base is the heart of the U.S. military power in Asia. More than 45,000 American troops stationed in Japan can be found there. The base, largest in the Pacific, is home to aerial attack, Special Forces, and intelligence units. Kadena would play an important role in carrying out missions if conflict ever erupted in Taiwan or the Koreas. But even with its military strength, opposition still rises. Japanese are tired of paying the United States $2 billion annually to be able to host Americans. America has agreed to move the eight thousand troops to Guam, but it will still be paid in Japanese funds. In addition, there are numerous high profile rape cases that add to the Japanese’s anger.