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C O U R S E 
War for the Greater Middle East
Andrew Bacevich, Boston University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
1980s: CENTCOM and Operation Bright Star
Notes taken on December 30, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
Carter's effort to resolve the Iran hostage crisis ultimately succeeded after dragging on 444 days
Iranian authorities chose January 20, 1981 as the date to set the hostages free
the date Carter left office and Ronald Reagan became president
so Reagan presidency began on a triumphal note
some argued that the prospect of dealing with a steely Reagan rather than a weak and wimpy Carter persuaded the Ayatollahs to release the hostages
Reagan has become a hero of conservatism
two themes define the Reagan presidency
1. deference to the market
near uninhibited capitalism would trickle down to the benefit of all
2. assertiveness
it was imperative for the United States to be the strongest military power in the world
"defense is not a budget item, you spend what you need"
increase in military spending, 35% in two terms
communist bloc was in a state of advanced decay
military build up facilitated intervention in the Greater Middle East
1980, preliminary step towards implementing the Carter doctrine
Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF)
lieutenant General Robert Kingston, RDJTF commander, stated that his mission was to assure the unimpeded flow of oil from the Arabian Gulf
freedom was at stake: not freedom as described in the Bill of Rights, but freedom as lifestyle
Americans had embraced a lifestyle on mobility and consumption
candidate Reagan insisted that more than ample supplies of oil and natural gas were available within the United States itself
president Reagan affirmed Carter's declaration that the Persian Gulf represented a vital US national security interest
Reagan replaced the RDJTF with the United States Central Command (CENTCOM)
the Pentagon now had a permanent agency charged with laying the groundwork for war in the Greater Middle East
CENTCOM was a part of a larger plan to have a military presence around the globe:
a four-US commander charged with presiding over each designated area of responsibility
War Plan Orange
joint U.S. army and navy war plans for dealing with a possible war with Japan during the years between the First and Second World Wars
influenced much of what the army and navy did between the wars
construction of fortifications
stationing of troops
design of ships and planes
conduct of war games
CENTCOM was similar to War Plan Orange beginning in the 1980s
on a more ambitious scale
but while War Plan Orange knew who the enemy was, CENTCOM did not have the luxury of knowing who the enemy would be: Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Soviet Union, etc.
nor could they assume that the character of any resulting conflict would be conventional, e.g. nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons were all a possibility, also unconventional methods were possible such as terrorism and guerrilla acts
protecting Saudi Arabia was priority number 1 for CENTCOM
analogous to defending Western Europe or South Korea
and one could be intellectually comfortable the goals of CENTCOM
it resembled what the U.S. military had been doing elsewhere for decades
committing the United States to defend Saudi Arabia would soon open up a Pandora's box of unwelcome surprises
gearing up for war in the Middle East involved:
negotiating access
preparing infrastructure
pre-positioning equipment
arranging for over flight rights
permission to use airfields and sea ports
in 1980, Oman agreed to allow the Pentagon to use the coastal island of Masirah
access agreements were also signed with Kenya, Somalia, Morocco, and Egypt
preparing infrastructure meant
expanding the capacity of those airfields and ports to accommodate a surge in military traffic
Saudi Arabia constructed a network of airfields and military support facilities with a capacity far in excess of what Saudi forces required
stocking weapons, ammunition, supplies close to the prospective war zone
Oman, Bahrain, and Israel allowed Pentagon to stockpile equipment and ammunitions on their territory
Diego Garcia
one of the last remaining islands of British Empire
to facilitate it's transfer to a US naval facility, Great Britain expelled the 2000 inhabitants
example of how the Carter Doctrine triggered an institutional response aimed at facilitating US intervention in the Greater Middle East
in the 1980s, the Reagan Administration invested $1 billion to expand Diego Garcia's air and port capacity
to accommodate the largest strategic bombers and Navy warships
the island became a "vital and indispensable platform for projecting American military power"
Operation Bright Star
a series of combined and joint training exercises led by American and Egyptian forces in Egypt
began in 1980, rooted in the Camp David Accords
after its signing, the military forces of Egypt and the United States agreed to conduct coalition training in Egypt
held every two years up to present