Leaving Manta

The US military is preparing to cease operations at Eloy Alfaro AB in Manta, Ecuador, by mid-July and conduct an orderly turnover of the facilities there to the Ecuadorian government by the end of September, according to Lt. Gen. Douglas Fraser, deputy commander of US Pacific Command who has been nominated for a fourth star to head US Southern Command, which oversees Defense Department activities in the Caribbean and Latin America. Fraser, in his written responses to advance questions posed by the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing June 2, said the US has not secured a new site yet to make up for the loss of the Ecuadorian air base, which the US military has leased since 1999 for use as a forward operating location to conduct unarmed counter-narcotics detection and monitoring missions in the region. The Ecuadorians want the US out when the current lease expires. Fraser said the loss of FOL Manta will affect coverage in the Eastern Pacific. While operations can be conducted from other regional facilities to mitigate the loss somewhat, that approach “creates new problem sets, such as increased transit times and operational costs,” he said. If confirmed, he said he would continue to work to find the best solution.