The United States is to double up its military presence in Bahrain, spending more than 580 million dollars, U.S. military's independent news source Stars and Stripes reported.
The U.S. 5th Fleet will increase the capacity of the existing facilities and is expanding to an adjacent 77-acre piece of land along the waterfront, Stars and Stripes reported.
Next month, a 400-foot-long tied-arch suspension bridge will be lifted into place to join the main base and the new base grounds.
The project will provide space for a vehicle maintenance facility, a warehouse, a dining facility and two barracks to house about 1,000 American sailors.
There are now nine active projects on the base, including a four-story administration building on the existing base set to be completed by 2015.
Washington’s expansion program comes as the Obama administration has been trying to show its allies in the region that its growing military presence in Asia does not mean neglecting the Middle East region.
During a visit to Bahrain last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that the United States would not abandon the region.
“Although the Department of Defense is facing serious budget constraints, we will continue to prioritize our commitments in the [Persian] Gulf, while making sure that our military capabilities evolve to meet new threats,” he said.
The new base area has been under development since 2010. Its piers are already home to the 5th Fleet’s minesweepers, coastal patrol ships and the USS Ponce, the Navy’s first afloat forward staging base.
Since 2008, the base population has more than doubled, from about 3,000 to 7,000 U.S. personnel. With roughly 80 acres of land on the main base, planners have been stretched to find real estate to meet the expanded unit requirements.
The U.S. Navy initially took over the base from the British Royal Navy in 1971. At the time, Britain was withdrawing from its bases east of the Suez Canal, leaving it to the United States to keep the peace in the volatile region. The base covered just 10 acres then.
Amnesty urges Bahrain to release kids
Meanwhile, the Amnesty International has grilled the Bahraini regime for torturing children for who they arrested amid pro-democracy protests that have been suppressed.
“By rounding up suspected under-age offenders and locking them up, Bahrain’s authorities are displaying an appalling disregard for its international human rights obligations,” the organization said in a statement released on Sunday, according to Al-Alam.
Referring to ongoing crackdown of the Al Khalifa regime on pro-democracy protesters, the statement noted that “Nearly three years after Bahrain’s security forces used excessive force to crush anti-government protests, they now appear to be targeting children in an intensified crackdown.”
“All children under the age of 18 who have not committed any recognizable offence must be released immediately. Any allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be thoroughly investigated.”
The statement also condemns Bahrain for harsh jail terms on children, saying, “Bahrain’s government purports to respect human rights yet it is brazenly flouting international obligations on a routine basis by resorting to extreme measures such as imposing harsh prison sentences on children.”
The Al Kahlifa regime is under fire for its brutal crackdown on rights activists and pro-democracy protesters.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader