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Naval Support Activity Bahrain in Juffair

US Navy base in Bahrain may add more families

MANAMA, June 9, 2015

More American military families could soon descend on Bahrain as the US Navy base in Juffair continues to expand.

The number of US personnel in the country has increased by more than a quarter – from 6,500 to 8,300 – in just two years, according to a report in US military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

This surge means the base is nearing its current quota of 686 families – or roughly 1,300 dependants – which has led its commander Captain David Meron to submit a proposal for 900 families to be allowed, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

“The word is getting out that Bahrain is not a scary place,” he said in an interview with Stars and Stripes published yesterday (June 8).

“It’s no mystery that the base here is in good shape – we think we have the capacity to hold more dependants.”

Captain Meron said that his proposal had support, but that it had to be approved at a very “high level” and there was no time frame for when the decision would be made.

If approved, the new quota would phase in 50 families at a time to assess the impact on base infrastructure and the Department of Defence-run Bahrain School in Juffair.

The proposal comes at a time when the Fifth Fleet is heavily involved in Operation Inherent Resolve against militant extremists the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

A $580 million expansion of the base, which began in 2010, has doubled the US Navy’s footprint in Bahrain and expanding support services for dependants include a new $480,000 school-age care facility with the capacity to support 75 primary school age children, which opened last week.

In addition there will be a 55 per cent increase in capacity over the next three years in the Navy Child and Youth Programmes, with plans in the pipeline to expand the base’s Teen Centre and the Child Development Centre.

The base is “gradually transitioning into a family-oriented overseas base similar to those in Europe and Japan” as oppose to an “expeditionary location”, according to the Stars and Stripes report.

Captain Meron pointed out that allowing more dependants of US Navy personnel in the kingdom was good for a sailor’s “well-being” as well as continuity.

During the 2011 unrest, the US Navy temporarily evacuated families of navy personnel but as the protests subsided they started to return and many now live off base. - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: US | military | navy | Juffair | base |

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