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U.S. military operating in Turkmenistan

Will most of the attention focused on the debate over Kyrgyzstan’s Manas airbase and the recent agreement allowing the United States to use Russian airspace to resupply Afghanistan, another Central Asian nation has been quietly brought into the fold. Dierdre Tynan reports for Eurasianet: The United States has a deal in place that allows for ...

Will most of the attention focused on the debate over Kyrgyzstan’s Manas airbase and the recent agreement allowing the United States to use Russian airspace to resupply Afghanistan, another Central Asian nation has been quietly brought into the fold. Dierdre Tynan reports for Eurasianet:

The United States has a deal in place that allows for the landing and refueling of transport planes at Ashgabat airport, according to the US Department of Defense. NATO is also seeking to open a land corridor for supplies destined for troops in Afghanistan, a source tells EurasiaNet.

Refueling also takes place at Ashgabat airport. According to DESC, Turkmenistan is among the Central Asian countries that are "invaluable to the success of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom."

Lt. Col. Mark Wright, a spokesman for the Defense Department, on July 7 described the nature of US-Turkmen transit arrangements. "As recently discussed by Turkmen President [Gurbanguly] Berdymukhamedov in a February speech in Uzbekistan, the Government of Turkmenistan now allows the US overflights of humanitarian cargo in support of stabilizing and rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan," Lt. Col. Wright said in a written response to questions posed by EurasiaNet.

"The United States has a small Air Force team, normally around seven airmen, who assist US aircraft who refuel at Ashgabat Airport, as part of this rebuilding and stabilizing effort for Afghanistan," he added.

"These airmen live in a nearby hotel and the fact that they are there is public knowledge," Lt. Col. Wright continued. "As a matter of policy, the United States does not discuss details of ongoing or future operations, specific types of aircraft, locations, facilities, etc."

For all the hubbub over Manas, it should be pointed out that Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrzystan and Tajikistan and Russia itself, are now all, in one way or another, supporting the NATO effort in Afghanistan.

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