Air Force Presence Evolving in Southwest Asia

The Air Force is working closely with US Central Command to determine which of the service’s operating locations in Southwest Asia will transition from an expeditionary posture to a more “permanent” or “semi-permanent” presence, said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh. The Air Force has expanded its military construction activities at places like al Udeid AB, Qatar, and expanded “accompanied tours” that allow airmen to deploy with families, much like garrisons in Europe, said Welsh during a Jan. 15 press briefing at the Pentagon. As CENTCOM identifies the bases and facilities it wants to invest in for its “long-term footprint” in the region, the Air Force will meet infrastructure requirements, said Welsh. Once agreements between the Defense Department, State Department, and host nations are reached, Welsh said, the Air Force would then “provide investment to build that capability … whether it’s a new air operations center or it’s trying to expand family presence so we can build stronger relationships with the community and the [host] nations.” (James-Welsh transcript)