US to Use Romanian Air Base as Air Transit Point for Afghanistan
(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. is slated to draw down all its combat troops in Afghanistan next year, but there was just one big problem. As of next July, Kyrgyzstan will no longer allow the U.S. to use the base at Manas as its main air transit center in and out of neighboring Afghanistan. Now the U.S. has finalized a deal with Romania to use one of its airbases to replace Manas.
Though Romania's location is not near Afghanistan, proximity will not be a concern because it will be an air logistical hub for the U.S. military forces headed out of Afghanistan. According to Pentagon spokesman George Little, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa finalized the deal Friday during Dusa’s visit to the Pentagon.
“Secretary Hagel and Minister Dusa finalized an agreement for Romania to support logistics into and out of Afghanistan, including both personnel and cargo movement.” He added, “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.
In a separate statement, the Pentagon announced that it has begun the process of relocating the Manas facility and turning it over to the Kyrgyz government by July. “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 U.S. will work with Kyrgyzstan over the next nine months to manage the TCM relocation effort, while providing support for the International Security Assistance Force mission.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio