Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries: US military presence and numbers

Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries: US military presence and numbers

Shafaq News / A Tuesday news report unveiled the distribution of US forces in the Middle East, including Iraq, providing details on troop numbers in each country and the military bases where they are stationed.

According to the "stripes" website affiliated with the US military, between 40,000 and 60,000 soldiers are deployed within the area of responsibility of US Central Command, spanning 21 countries from Egypt in the west to Kazakhstan in the northeast. They serve purposes such as training, advisory roles, and supporting US bases, as reported by "Al-Hurra".

The United States has maintained a strong presence in the Middle East since the establishment of the Fifth Fleet. Typically, it deploys two aircraft carriers with their battle groups, each equipped with thousands of personnel.

Naval forces

According to data from the "France-Presse" agency, there are 18 ships in the region, including the aircraft carrier "USS Harry S. Truman," and three guided-missile destroyers: "USS Lassen," "USS Farragut," and "USS Forrest Sherman," along with the guided-missile cruiser "USS Normandy".

Following the outbreak of the conflict between Hamas and Israel in October, the US announced the deployment of two aircraft carriers, the "USS Gerald Ford" and "USS Eisenhower," along with support ships and approximately 2,000 Marine Corps personnel. Additionally, they sent "THAAD" batteries and extra "Patriot" system batteries.

The Pentagon also ordered the deployment of additional fighter aircraft to support the existing A-10, F-15, and F-16 squadrons in the Middle East.

The largest bases in the Middle East

The largest US base in the Middle East is located in Qatar. In Bahrain, you'll find the headquarters of the Fifth Fleet, which consists of combat groups of aircraft carriers, submarines, permanently stationed Marine forces, mine countermeasures forces, and maritime surveillance forces, according to The Washington Post.

The Sheikh Isa Air Base, located south of Manama, hosts US military aircraft, including F-16s, F/A-18s, and P-3 surveillance planes, as per the Chatham House research institute.

As part of defense cooperation with Kuwait following Operation Desert Storm in 1991, American soldiers were deployed to important sites, including Ali Al Salem Air Base.

The US retains about 10,000 American troops in these bases, with approximately 1,400 stationed permanently, while the rest form a temporary force distributed in conflict zones in the region, with numbers adjusting according to circumstances and risks, according to the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies and Research in Kuwait.

In Qatar, the headquarters of the US forces was moved there in 2003 after departing from Saudi Arabia, and it is currently based at Al Udeid Air Base southwest of Doha. This base is now the largest US military facility in the Middle East.

At Al Udeid, you can find the Combined Air Operations Center, which is responsible for coordinating US air forces and their allies throughout the Middle East, particularly in the airspace over Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

Iraq and Syria:

Following the invasion by ISIS in 2014, the US deployed troops to both Iraq and Syria for training and advisory purposes for local partner forces. Currently, there are around 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and 900 in Syria.


In Egypt, American troops make up the majority of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) mission, which oversees the implementation of the Camp David Accords.


In Israel, American soldiers are stationed at the Nevatim Air Base in the Negev Desert to support the Iron Dome missile defense system, as reported by The Times of Israel.


Most of the US forces in Jordan are based at the King Faisal Air Base in Azraq.

Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia terminated the presence of US military bases on its territory in 2003, with a limited number of soldiers remaining for training and military cooperation between the two countries.

United Arab Emirates:

In the UAE, Al Dhafra Air Base is one of the most important military installations in the region. The US has maintained a military presence there for over a quarter of a century.


Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, located near several potential conflict areas, is a crucial base for the US and NATO, providing a rapid response to events.

Other countries:

In 2018, the UK opened its first permanent base in Bahrain in four decades. Approximately 500 British Royal Navy personnel, including sailors, soldiers, and airmen, are hosted there.

According to the Turkish Anadolu Agency, a Turkish military base was established in Qatar, with Turkish ground forces deployed there. An agreement between the two countries, signed on December 19, 2014, allows for the mutual deployment of forces if needed and for conducting joint military exercises.

France has deployed forces in Iraq as part of the Global Coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria within Operation Chammal. French military personnel train Iraqi security forces to defeat ISIS, and Mirage fighter aircraft conduct airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

In the UAE, the French Navy's Indian Ocean Command is based in Abu Dhabi. France has three bases in the UAE: Al Dhafra Air Base, the naval base in Zayed Port, and the ground base in Zayed Military City. France uses these bases to support counter-ISIS missions, according to the American Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Russia's presence:

Russia has significantly intervened in the Middle East since 2015, primarily to support the Bashar al-Assad regime. Russia now has the largest military presence in Syria, with its forces concentrated in two main bases: Hmeimim Airbase located near Latakia, and the Tartus naval base. The latter is Russia's only Mediterranean base.

Russia has also deployed mercenaries from the "Wagner" Group in various Middle Eastern regions, including Libya, Sudan, and Syria. The Wagner Group started operating in Sudan in 2017, providing military training to intelligence agencies, special forces, and the Rapid Support Forces, according to Sudanese officials and documents shared with the Associated Press.

Reports have indicated an agreement between Russia and Sudan to establish a supply and maintenance base for the Russian navy on the Red Sea coast to "enhance peace and security in the region."

In February, the Associated Press reported that Sudanese officials had stated that the army had completed a review of an agreement with Russia to build a naval base on the Red Sea.

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