United States plans' for leaving Iraq include large military presence in Kuwait

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A U.S. Army helicopter lands in Kuwait in 2009. An existing logistics base in Kuwait will expand and transform into a combat force, later this year. (U.S. Army photo.)

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As the United States prepares to remove the last of its forces from Iraq, it's planning an enlarged presence in nearby Kuwait.

But this isn't exactly a new idea. In fact, prior to the most recent War in Iraq, the United States had a permanent military presence in Kuwait.

"It's a continuity with the vision of the first President Bush, going back to 1991," said Steven Lee Myers, Baghdad bureau chief for The New York Times. "Ever since then, the United States kept a combat brigade in Kuwait until the invasion of Iraq."

Myers said a combat brigade, the most likely force to remain behind, typically would have between 5,000 and 10,000 soldiers. Kuwait has a history of being friendly to the United States, especially dating back to the U.S.-led liberation of Kuwait during the first Persian Gulf War.

"It can move very quickly. It can swing into action in Iraq if it needed to," Myers said.

Another goal is to enhance cooperation between the United States and the half dozen countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabie.

Myers said the United States would like those countries to more closely integrate their militaries and allow the U.S. military to work with them, particularly on things like training and naval exercises.

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"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.