|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Jun 08, 2017 10:19 AM EDT|
(Photo : US Army) Surveillance photos of China's naval base in Djibouti. (Left) Before construction. (Right) Military facilities almost completed.
The Pentagon confirms China will open more overseas military bases for its army, navy and air force in the future and will start this military expansion in the territories of allies such as Pakistan and Djibouti in Africa.
China is currently expanding its presence in foreign ports as a way to "pre-position the necessary logistics support" to sustain warships of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) far from the Chinese mainland, said a report released by the Pentagon.
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"China's expanding international economic interests are increasing demands for the (PLAN) to operate in more distant maritime environments to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication."
The report shows the Pentagon believes China most likely will try to set up additional military bases in countries where it has "longstanding friendly relationships and similar strategic interests."
It singles out Pakistan as one of those countries willing to host the PLAN and probably the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).
It notes China is building a naval base in the Republic of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa along the Gulf of Aden. The Pentagon now believes construction will be completed in 2018 after first expecting the base to open this year.
"This initiative (in Djibouti), along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China's growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces," said the report.
Because China is building its first overseas naval base in Djibouti, the United States will take measures to strengthen the protection of Camp Lemonnier, its vital military base in Djibouti.
China's new naval base is located only 13 kilometers away from Camp Lemonnier, the largest U.S. military base in Africa.
China's first overseas naval base and military outpost at the small port town of Obock on the Horn of Africa is on ground originally intended for use by the U.S. Army. The Chinese base on a 364,000 square meter (90 acre) plot houses supply stores; barracks for a small force of Chinese marines or Special Forces; maintenance facilities for aircraft and ships and weapons sites.
China refers to the Obock naval base as a "support facility" and said it doesn't have plans of building large bases such as those the U.S. military favors. It also denies the base is ratcheting up tensions with the U.S.
Camp Lemonnier currently houses over 4,000 U.S. troops and is used for Special Forces and drone operations against jihadist groups in the region. These troops and contractors are assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
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