Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What does the US troop drawdown mean to Kuwait?

What is going to happen in Kuwait now that the US troops are out of Iraq?  Well, let's see, CSA was living large off the US military contract they had for support services to all the camps in Kuwait. ITT Exelis took over from them last year at a fraction of the contract value that CSA had.  Employees got longer hours, less pay and less benefits (shared transport, less luxurious accommodations). 

Local support services like car leasing, apartment furnishings have suffered (however rents have not dropped in the market as many of us had hoped.  Damn greedy landlords!!!).  There have been cutbacks in many areas.

What is going to become of the military camps?  What's going on?

The camps in Kuwait are just that - "camps".  The were created for a deployment into Iraq, meaning that the soldiers have not been allowed to go off the camps. The barbed wire, surveillance cameras, and guards don't just keep people out:  Camp Arifjan has been described by many as a "medium-security jail."  Soldiers rarely get out and it is very difficult to get in.  Further, as a deployment, the camps were built with the intention of being able to return the land to an "as it was" condition.  No doubt, several of the camps are probably headed in that direction.

Storage/pre-positioning of equipment - Arifjan
 "Troops live in transitional barracks, which are pre-fabricated concrete buildings. Camp Arifjan is in an area that Congress has deemed a hostile-fire zone. As such, deployed troops are unaccompanied on their tours of duty. "  (

There have been rumors that Camp Arifjan may become a permanent base. (I heard that a secret agreement was signed on Valentine's Day - hours before the new Parliament was sworn in.  Again, that is just heresay.) When Camp Arifjan was built, the US Government signed a 50-year land lease with the Kuwaiti Government.  My guess is that Arifjan isn't going away anytime soon.  A permanent base would be nice.  It would allow Kuwaiti support services to conduct permanent business with the US military.  It would also allow (as is the case most places in the world) military personnel to bring their families with them.  DoD schools would be built and infrastructure would be put in place for military housing and services.

Semi-permanent buildings on Arifjan
 A Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) is signed between the US and Kuwait every 10 years.  The DCA was up for renwal last year (2011). Details of the DCA are kept secret, as is the SOFA agreement between the two countries. 

"A status of forces agreement (SOFA) is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing forces in that country. SOFAs are often included, along with other types of military agreements, as part of a comprehensive security arrangement. A SOFA does not constitute a security arrangement; it establishes the rights and privileges of foreign personnel present in a host country in support of the larger security arrangement." (Wikipedia)

What is going to happen?  One source quotes: 15,000 are staying in the tiny country, at least for now, By Michelle Tan, Staff writer, Army Times, Posted Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 8:39:16 EST.  Nearly 15,000 soldiers are now deployed to Kuwait — including two brigade combat teams and a combat aviation brigade — as the mission there evolves and the U.S. works to maintain a combat-capable presence in the unstable region. “This is a larger contingent than we’ve typically had,” a senior Army official, who spoke on background, told Army Times. “Working with the Kuwaitis to have a U.S. presence there is very helpful as far as general regional security is concerned,” the official said. What remains to be seen is whether troop levels, particularly among the combat units, will remain in the long term. In November, after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was announced and officials were trying to determine whether some forces should remain in the region, the defense minister for Kuwait was quoted as saying the Arab state would only be used as a transit point for troops. A military official told Army Times that it’s likely the U.S. will have a “continued presence in Kuwait, similar to before 2003.”

From all indications, Arifjan is staying.  There are new HUGE warehouses being built in Mina Abdullah, for example.  It appears very permanent.  It is all to the benefit of the local economy.

Regarding Iran, I have noted that on the camps that I've visited within this past month, surface-to-air (SAM) launchers have been erected.  There are also notifications in common areas of how to take cover for a SCUD attack.  (I haven't heard the word "SCUD" used since 2003.  Fascinating.)

US bases in the Region


Anonymous said...

DODS schools? There were no DODS schools in Korea, Germany or Japan until the 1960's. Remember Kuwait is still a warzone as far as hazardous pay goes - and you want wives and kids here....oh gawd.
Contractors are bad enough but nothing to miltary wives - Oh please spare Kuwait.
They may shut down some and consolidate - once upon a time they had elements at JAber AB, Mubarak AB and the Military Hospital. Ali Al Salem/LSA are under the same 'close down' presssure.
Nothing 'permenant' just a renewable treaty .....
love your posts

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 3:30. Dude/tte, you seem terrified by the prospect.

I've been here for 15 years. I don't see anybody considering anything outside of the camps a "warzone." But yes, our Government is alarmist and anyone who can get hazard pay here is good to be getting it. I was expected to go to work in 2003 when the SCUDS were falling and I can tell you - I didn't get hazard pay.

Maybe the military wives will keep the contractors (because SMs can't get off base) from marrying second wives, or just cheating in general (could relate to SMs as well) with whoever the closest woman is (paid for or not). Maybe the popular "Blowjobs for Bacon Program" will become a thing of the past. Awwwww... wouldn't THAT be sad?

Shut down and consolidate would be good.

Like I said, I heard a RUMOR that it has been signed and I'm providing a "what if" scenario. I personally hope that it is true.

Thanks for the compliment.

Anonymous said...

if american 'men' need the physical presence of their women to prevent them from fooling around, that is truly a sad commentary on american men....

troops get haz pay and don't pay fed income tax for time spent here - even the embassy goons get haz pay - from iraq to even oman in all gcc - haz pay for all military and emabby personnel

Anonymous said...

0-5's and above can sign an 'off base' order - i had lunch with 15 soldiers and their 0-5 last week at a restuarant in mahboula
many whose requirement is to drive from base to base frequently 'take a detour' downtown

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 5:39

It is sad. So are the amount of sexual assaults against female soldiers.

But there are bad apples in every bushel. I didn't mean to make a sweeping derrogatory generalization about American men in Kuwait.

However, I didn't make a sweeping generalization about military wives either.

Wouldn't it be nicer for both if they could keep families together? The military families I know in Kuwait are just happy to be together.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 5:39. Just found out that hazard pay in Kuwait will become a thing of the past later this year. Ooops - there it is....

Anonymous said...

You dont get haz pay as a civ and you still pay taxes. Also what ever happen to OPSEC !

getgwap247 said...

Hi here , my name is vic and im soon goin to be employed to work on camp arifjan within the next week actually. I dont really know what to expect and wont have any friends. so if some1 wants to show me around that would be so much help. dont think i will have much free time tho

Anonymous said...


I sent an email to you as well but my main concerns going into a contract with ITT Exelis has to do with housing, transportation and also how to approach them about granting a companion visa for my Iranian hubby. With regard to housing they haven't clarified whether or not my husband will be able to live with me, they kind of skirted the issue and just dismissed it with well you have to discuss that once you're there. The companion visa I know he can get for sure because I researched that with the Kuwaiti Embassy in LA and they basically said regardless of what company they are supposed to approve companion visas for spouses during the duration of the contract. The other concern is whether or not the transportation really isn't shared just due to the cultural sensitivities for Kuwait as well as my own concerns for safety. Obviously the money for working here is less than taking on Afghanistan however, that was not one of the driving factors behind taking this contract for me it was more due to the location of this job in relation to the inlaws in Iran and also because my hubby can do his green card interview at the Kuwaiti Embassy. Anyway there are several more concerns so I really hope that you respond back as I will be leaving within the week. Btw I do speak Arabic, just not Gulf dialect and culturally I kinda already know the type of modest dress that won't get so much unwanted and or creepy guys coming up to me and saying they want to boom boom lol :P

Desert Girl said...

Dear Anonymous May 14 - I don't have your name on here and a few people write to me, so I'm having a hard time determining who to write back to. Please send me your email and I'll take it off line.

Anonymous said...

Has the housing situation changed at all with ITT? (that you may know of) /r, J

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 11:25 - What do you mean has the housing situation changed at all with ITT?

Let's see....

ITT/Exelis underbid the next potential awardee on the prime contract by US$90 million. It is now the last year and a half remaining of the contract (through 2015). Do ya THINK that they are cutting costs? Hmmmmmm......

Hey, if you (Article 18 visa holder) haven't been paid overtime, you should try to get it ASAP. Jurisdiction: KUWAIT. That means Kuwait court. Article 66 of the Kuwait Labor Law: "The overtime work should not exceed two hours a day, a maximum of 180 hours a year, three days a week or 90 days a year. The worker shall have the right to prove by any means
that the employer required him to perform additional works for an additional period of time. The worker shall also be entitled to a 25 percent increase over his original remuneration for the period of overtime."

Anonymous said...

Camp Arifjan is a political nightmare. Many National Guard Soldiers are empowered here, so that's a lot of the issue. There are way too many people here, cut them in half and you still have too many. The priority of work is a mess. Stop what you're doing to give somebody something they need 3 days from now. Getting new furniture for offices is a priority while Soldiers live in PCBs which are a slab of concrete with a tin building on top of it.