Abu Dhabi: In a move that ends a decades-long practice that was considered evidence of the confidence and commitment of the United States to the security of the Gulf states, the Pentagon has banned its soldiers operating in US bases in these countries to accompany their families, starting this month, Kuwait media reported.
The Pentagon stressed the move has no effect on the deployment of American forces, and the existing families will not be withdrawn, indicating that it will be applied to the military who will start a new service period.
However, the Wall Street Journal considered the move an indication that Washington is reducing part of its presence in the region.
WSJ reportedly said that this measure sends a message to the region and the world about US military obligations and security issues imposed by Iran.
The paper also noted that the United States informed its allies in the region about the new shift this week, including Bahrain, home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Qatar, where the US Military Command’s air operations center is located.
It added that officials in the Gulf countries interested in any American shift from the region in the face of Iran’s activities, expressed concern about the new policy.
While the WSJ pointed out that American officials have studied returning family members who currently live in the region, but the coronavirus crisis led to halting this idea, it said that some of these officials felt that suddenly withdrawing family members from the area could send the wrong signal that Washington was planning a conflict With Iran.
Pentagon officials have said that such plans are not imminent, there is no indication of a threat close to Iran.
Defense Secretary Mark Esber had discussions about this measure over the past two months, WSJ reported. It added the decision would be applied over the next two years.
More than 2,000 members of families of soldiers live in the Gulf states, and the authorities considered them at risk, because they live within the reach of Iranian ballistic missiles, according to WSJ. Thus, Washington has abandoned the classification of the Middle East as a safe enough area for the families of soldiers serving in the region to live in,.
Military officials, including Centcom Commander General Frank McKenzie and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Millie, have expressed the need to maintain a presence in the region to continue to deter Iran, but they have supported the idea of Esber, the newspaper said.