(October 4, 2019 / JNS) After 13 years, some 300 planes flying above the Middle East late last month were being controlled from Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina—and not the Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
While the shift was temporary, it’s a significant tactical move amid the Iranian threat, most recently including the Iranian strikes last month on two Saudi Aramco oil facilities.
“The functions that the CAOC provides for air power are so critical and so essential that we can’t afford to have a single point of failure,” Maj. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman told The Washington Post.
“Our goal is deterrence,” he added.
Byron Pompa, U.S. Air Force Central Command operations director at al-Udeid, told the outlet, “In times like today, we can’t have a ton of permanent-fixture operating bases throughout the area of responsibility.”
“Iran has indicated multiple times through multiple sources their intent to attack U.S. forces,” Col. Frederick Coleman, commander of the 609th Air and Space Operations Center, told the publication.
“Frankly, as the war against ISIS winds down and as we continue to work through a potential peace process in Afghanistan, the region is calming down and potentially more stable than it has been in decades,” he said. “Except for Iran.”
According to the Post, “By making the command and control operations mobile, the United States could rebound from an attack far quicker. That flexibility would also make the building that houses them at al-Udeid a less valuable target, which would allow them to redeploy air-defense systems to other critical infrastructure.”
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