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U.S. reopening World War II bases in Pacific

As part of its emerging "Air-Sea Battle" concept, (see Robert Haddick for more on that) and the strategic pivot to the Pacific, the U.S. military is planning to brush out the cobwebs on a number of long-disused facilities for potential use during a new Pacific conflict. Military.com reports:  A key component of this plan is ...

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As part of its emerging "Air-Sea Battle" concept, (see Robert Haddick for more on that) and the strategic pivot to the Pacific, the U.S. military is planning to brush out the cobwebs on a number of long-disused facilities for potential use during a new Pacific conflict. Military.com reports

A key component of this plan is the refurbishment of long-abandoned World War II airfields scattered across the Pacific. These fields would serve as pretty bare bones facilities that American aircraft could disburse to if a conflict seemed imminent (similar to the way Strategic Air Command’s Cold War disbursal base concept worked).

It looks like the Marine Corps has begun practicing how to put such a plan into action. Last month, Marines refurbished the 8,000-foot “Baker” runway at the abandoned — and historic — North Field air base on the island of Tinian, and installed aircraft carrier-like arresting gear on the runway of the island’s lightly-used West Field. Naturally, this was followed up by Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornets from nearby Guam performing arrested landings on West Field, as shown in the picture above.

Tinian has a storied history, the story notes. It’s where the B-29s that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki took off.

The idea of reopening the bases is to allow the U.S. to scatter its squadrons in order to make them less vulnerable to a sneak missile attack in the event of a conflict with China. Let’s hope it’s just a precaution. 

As part of its emerging "Air-Sea Battle" concept, (see Robert Haddick for more on that) and the strategic pivot to the Pacific, the U.S. military is planning to brush out the cobwebs on a number of long-disused facilities for potential use during a new Pacific conflict. Military.com reports

A key component of this plan is the refurbishment of long-abandoned World War II airfields scattered across the Pacific. These fields would serve as pretty bare bones facilities that American aircraft could disburse to if a conflict seemed imminent (similar to the way Strategic Air Command’s Cold War disbursal base concept worked).

It looks like the Marine Corps has begun practicing how to put such a plan into action. Last month, Marines refurbished the 8,000-foot “Baker” runway at the abandoned — and historic — North Field air base on the island of Tinian, and installed aircraft carrier-like arresting gear on the runway of the island’s lightly-used West Field. Naturally, this was followed up by Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornets from nearby Guam performing arrested landings on West Field, as shown in the picture above.

Tinian has a storied history, the story notes. It’s where the B-29s that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki took off.

The idea of reopening the bases is to allow the U.S. to scatter its squadrons in order to make them less vulnerable to a sneak missile attack in the event of a conflict with China. Let’s hope it’s just a precaution. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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