Alarms Sounding Over British Return of Indian Ocean Islands, Including One with Important U.S. Naval Base
Top Republican demands assurances from Biden administration over base on Diego Garcia,
Diego Garcia is an island of British Indian Ocean Territory. On that island. the Camp Justice U.S. Navy Support Facility provides critical support to U.S. and allied forces forward deployed to the Indian Ocean while supporting multi-theater forces operating in the CENTCOM, AFRICOM, EUCOM, and PACOM areas of responsibilities in support of overseas operations.
Needless to say, it is a strategic military asset. Unfortunately, the base’s future is questioned as the United Kingdom plans to return an Indian Ocean island chain to Mauritius.
The United Kingdom is on the cusp of returning one of its last colonies to its native inhabitants, but national security experts say the move could have dire consequences for the US, which leases a Navy base from the Brits on one of the islands.
The Chagos Archipelago is made up of about 60 islands located about 1,500 miles south of India, a position that offers the base on the island of Diego Garcia a strategic advantage due to its proximity to the Middle East and South Asia.
“This is an important story with strategic implications,” RAND Corporation senior international defense analyst Timothy Heath told The Post. “Diego Garcia … is a very valuable basing facility due to its location in the Indian Ocean. The US does not have great access outside of Diego Garcia in that part of the world.”
The UK last month began negotiations with the island nation of Mauritius over the sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago, which has been a British possession since 1814.
The return is troubling, as Mauritius has close connections with China.
The issue is one of the most important strategic locations in the Indian Ocean, from where U.S. B1 and B52 bombers can reach maritime chokepoints, vital sea lanes and even potential Chinese bases everywhere from Djibouti to Pakistan.
The British government says any deal will protect the U.S. operation at Diego Garcia.
But British MP Daniel Kawczynski is warning his American counterparts that handing sovereignty to Mauritius – with its deepening economic ties to Beijing – offers no guarantee that China won’t soon have its own base on the island chain.
‘If you look at the amount of investment the Chinese have in Mauritius, I would argue that for all intents and purposes they control Mauritius,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘They have a policy of hoovering up all of these islands in the South China Sea… the idea the Chinese are not going to take advantage of us giving up these islands is wrong.’
Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL), a former Green Beret, is sounding the alarm and asserts that the return could have ‘catastrophic’ consequences for American military power across a swath of the globe.
‘It has been used in every major contingency operation from the Iranian Revolution, Desert Fox, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan,’ he said.
‘it’s often described by both the Navy and the Air Force as the unsinkable aircraft carrier sitting in in the middle of the ocean.’
Losing Bagram, makes it only more crucial.
‘We must ensure that we do not repeat the Biden Administration’s shortsighted blunder of ignoring our generals’ recommendations and abandoning Bagram Air Base during the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,’ writes Waltz in his letter.
‘Bordering China and in the backyard of Russia and Iran, giving up Bagram took away a crucial American asset in the great power competition.
‘After losing this air base, officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense assured me that the loss of Bagram could be mitigated by strategic assets operating with similar effect from Diego Garcia.
‘Conceding both of these critical assets would be catastrophic to deterring our adversaries in the Middle East and Indo-Pacific.’
In keeping with its usual policy priorities, I project that the Biden administration will go forward with actions that support China in preference to those that help our nation…especially our military.DONATE
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