According to an Associated Press news service report spread across media from coast to coast (and, no doubt, beyond), the many construction projects ongoing at US military operated facilities in Iraq has signaled to Iraqis that the Americans are digging in for a very long haul. No matter that US officials deny claims the US is building “permanent” facilities. When USAF and other services spend millions to enhance living quarters and recreation facilities for troops or to build new runways and increase perimeter security, the perception must be that the US is planning to stay. The situation appears to be confusing for at least one airman, as well. AP reports that 19-year-old Air Force mechanic Josh Remy said, “I think we’ll be here forever.” He will no doubt learn that this would not be the first time the US military has built up bases only to leave them to the locals.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.