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Bridget Johnson

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October 18, 2013 - 3:08 pm

Vladimir Putin has won the expulsion of U.S. forces from a key air base in Kyrgyzstan, a troop and supply hub for the coalition in Afghanistan since after 9/11.

While the U.S. is leaving Manas, the Russian air base 20 miles away at Kant inked a 15-year extension agreement last year.

Russia first tried to get the U.S. off the base when the Kyrgyz parliament in 2009 said that the Americans’ lease shouldn’t be renewed. The Kremlin tried to coax the Kyrgyz government against an extension for the U.S. by offering a $2.15 billion aid package, but Washington managed to negotiate a new lease that included a rent hike of $43 million a year.

This evening, the Pentagon said it has begun the process of relocating from the Transit Center at Manas International Airport (TCM) and plans to complete the transfer of areas and facilities to the government of Kyrgyzstan by July 2014.

“The current agreement between the U.S. and Kyrgyz governments on hosting the TCM expires in July 2014. The U.S. appreciates the support provided by the Kyrgyz people to U.S. forces and coalition efforts to counter the threat of terrorism and to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan and the region and respects the decision of the Government of Kyrgyzstan to end hosting the TCM after more than 12 years,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

“Working closely with Kyrgyzstan over the next nine months, the U.S. will manage the TCM relocation effort while continuing to support the International Security Assistance Force mission,” the statement continued. “The U.S. intends to continue supporting Kyrgyzstan’s democratic and economic development, and we look forward to further developing our bilateral relationship in the years ahead.”

In June, the Kyrgyz parliament voted 91-5 to expel the Americans from the base, followed by a decree from President Almazbek Atambayev.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Romania’s Minister of Defense Mircea Dusa today at the Pentagon to finalize a new agreement for Romania to support logistics into and out of Afghanistan, including both personnel and cargo movement.

“Secretary Hagel praised this agreement, which is particularly important as the U.S. prepares to wind down transit center operations at Manas, Kyrgystan next year. Secretary Hagel highlighted this agreement as a further testament to Romania’s steadfast commitment to the ISAF mission and its commitment to regional and international security,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.

Romania and Afghanistan are more than 2,300 miles apart, while the distance from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Kabul is just 638 miles.

“Secretary Hagel also thanked Romania for its decision to host the Aegis Ashore missile defense system, emphasizing that the agreement reaffirms and strengthens the collective defense upon which NATO was founded. This system represents an important component of the larger European Phased Adaptive Approach and is expected to be operational in 2015. At Secretary Hagel’s direction, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James N. Miller will attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Aegis Ashore system at Deveselu later this month,” Little continued.

“Secretary Hagel further praised Romania’s decision to purchase 12 F-16 aircraft from Portugal. He added that this significant investment in air superiority capabilities will open the door for greater regional collaboration and will be valuable to future NATO and coalition operations. Secretary Hagel reaffirmed that Romania is one of the United States’ staunchest allies. The two leaders also agreed to look for ways to expand our strong military cooperation as well as to support Romania’s efforts to become a leader in the region and in NATO.”

In September, Atambayev prefaced the U.S. expulsion with a declaration at a NATO meeting that Manas would get rid of all military flights, but suggested it would coincide with the withdrawal of coalition forces at the end of 2014.

“As the president of Kyrgyzstan, I declare that there will be no military component at Manas international airport. Manas airport will be a civil hub, which will provide services for transportation. It will be a purely civilian airport,” said Atambayev.

Meanwhile, Russia has begun plans to remodel its air base, overhauling the runways to be able to receive strategic bombers.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (20)
All Comments   (20)
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$2 Billion is chump change to Vlad when he and the Russkies get to flip us the bird on the world stage....weak, limp, flaccid-the adjectives for our man-child president are as numerous as they are embarrassing. IF we had anyone with some "guts" on our foreign policy team, we would start building that missile defense system in Poland and flip Vlad the bird...

Remember BENGHAZI!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
IF the cia & nsa are our 1st line of defense, we are in DEEP pooh. These same guys missed the end of cold war, ignored several spies in their midst, had no clue about 911 & were asleep at the switch during the arab spring. I knew a cia guy posted in Sofia, Bulgaria in the 80s. He'd always complain about how he'd send in reports to Langley & the when he went back there he could tell no one even bothered to read 'em by the questions they asked. I'd trust the keystone cops more that the cia & nsa. They screw everything up & are as dumb as a bag of hammers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Ruskies are kicking our butts all over the world. Thanks for nuthin o.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is no loss. With our leaving Afghanistan in the coming year there will be no ned for the transit center in Manas. The lack of a mission demands that we leave. Let the Russians for once get caught out with a footprint that is unsustainable in a Muslim environment.
We should not delay in wrapping up our business there in Central Asia and get the hell out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
ericcs has the right idea: seize the initiative instead of being tossed about by events. Declaring support doesn't even mean doing anything in particular. As we say in chess, the threat is stronger than its execution. Bravo.

BTW the end of an agreement (lease) does not result in expulsion. We simply fold out tent, thank the Kyrgyz (and probably Vlad), then leave.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The US should throw a huge monkey wrench into the Mideast, just to confound its enemies and erstwhile "friends".

A Modest Mideast Proposal

The US should declare support for an independent Kurdish state. That would immediately put the fear of Allah into Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. They deserve even more internal trouble than they already have, and the support would get all these 3rd-world Moslem hellholes fixated on their internal affairs instead of exporting chaos. In addition, the US should make a deal with what it designates as the representative of the new Kurdish state to move its military base from Incirlik (Adana) over to Erbil or Mahabad. The subsequent scrambling and bleating and recriminations from these other countries would be wondrous to behold. It would start to keep them in line, it would foment chaos on all sides of the related borders, and it would ultimately be a win-win situation for the US.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Kurds deserve a state far more than the Fakestinians, and the Kurds will support the US, unlike Turkey (now an Iranian province), Syria (also an Iranian province), Iraq (ditto)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We left the Kurds hanging out to dry in '91 after GWI (G.W. Bush) when Saddam massacred thousands in revenge for supporting coalition forces......no freaking way I would trust us now with this moooslim loving liar-in-chief...our foreign policy today only produces "allies" that we can afford to buy (except Israel - who has no other choice) because our "word" is worthless to the rest of the world.

Remember BENGHAZI!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama is too tight into his love fest with the Turkish government to support an independent Kurdish state.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Do you seriously think Obuzzo would go for such an agreement? Our muslim-in-chief isn't likely to toss a monkey wrench into the workings of muslim controlled states. He's most interested in causing mayhem for Israel.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Romanians are the strangest people I have ever met. Those who lived through the Ceaucescu regime remain paranoid incapable of trusting other people.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yet another failure of American diplomacy. Thanks, Kerry and Obama.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So let the Russkies deal with Afghanistan........why not???
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Checkers vs. chess. Chess kicked checkers butt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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