New US Military & #GCC Engagement in the Middle East

According to a New York Times article a classified US-led military base named the Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CASOC) located just outside Doha, Qatar has become public during a recent trip by the US Defense Secretary Hagel. During his visit with his counterpart he signed “a new Defense Cooperation Agreement that includes joint training and exercises and other unspecified cooperative military actions.”

Despite Middle Eastern CENTCOM Operations seemingly in withdrawal mode across the region, this announcement illustrates a continued commitment to US engagement in the region and foreshadows an increase in Command and Control (C2) operations with a focus on joint multinational operations. Between the lines, we can read that this means significant logistics & intelligence support to regional allies while running point on Joint Special Operations efforts while including extensive training & support to regional allies’ Special Operations Forces.

Simultaneously the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has agreed to establish a Joint Military Command and Police Force. The GCC consists of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The GCC is most known for its efforts to assist in stabilizing the Republic of Yemen following the Arab Spring revolution.

The GCC owning its own Joint Military Command with the CASOC being based out of Qatar we are seeing a dramatic shift in Middle East Operations with the GCC on point and the US-led CASOC in the supporting role. Considering the GCC’s anti-Iran stance and concern for stability in the region it is conceivable to see a GCC led operational enterprise across the region focusing on stabilizing Syria, facilitating Yemen’s transition and countering Iranian expansive reach into Iraq, Syria and Yemen.