Qatar will reportedly expand the US airbase located in southwest of Doha, that currently houses about 10,000 US military personnel, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs H E Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah said during his visit to Washington, DC, this week.
The plan to expand Al Udeid base - home of the US Air Force Central Command - will allow for 200 more housing units for officers and their families. "It will very soon become a family-oriented place for our American friends there. We want more of the families to be stable and feel more comfortable in their stay," al-Attiyah said at an event held by the Heritage Foundation, a US-based think-tank, Sunday, Doha based newspaper, Peninsula reported
The minister estimated that “80 percent of aerial refueling in the region is from Udeid,” meaning that the bulk of the US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria would be impossible if not for Qatar’s cooperation.
He also for the first time revealed a “big plan” by Qatar to “make Al-Udeid permanent.”
“Colleagues in the US Department of Defense are reluctant to mention the word permanent, but we are working from our side to make it permanent,” he stressed.
Al-Attiyah added the US presence has been beneficial for Qatar's armed forces. "We're learning a lot on the military side by flying side-by-side. We are learning from the Americans, it's a real operational environment".