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US Seeks to Reinforce Its Presence in Southern Europe With New Ships at Spain's Rota Base – Report

Sputnik News

18:26 18.12.2019

The Spanish-American naval base Rota hosts US Navy and Marine Corps personnel, as well as four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, while remaining under the command of a Spanish rear admiral.

The Pentagon wants to increase its presence at the Rota naval base in Cádiz by 50% in a bid to reinforce its role as the biggest US naval base in Southern Europe, El Pais reported, citing military and diplomatic sources familiar with the matter.

The US Department of Defence plans to add two more Arleigh Burke class destroyers to the already deployed four with an aim to have a complete squadron, the sources revealed, as well as to replace the ships there with more modern versions that will be equipped with Romeo Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. If the measure is approved, it will require the deployment of an additional 600 personnel to Rota, the outlet notes. It will also potentially lead to a review of the existing 1988 bilateral agreement between the two states detailing the US authorisation rights for the base.

In the meantime, the Spanish government has been experiencing a stalemate, following an inconclusive repeat election this November, with acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez currently struggling to form a coalition government and confirm his position in office. This potentially creates a problem for the Pentagon's ambitions at Rota, with the need to get approval for its plans from a functioning Spanish government, sources noted to the outlet. The replacements for the ships currently based at Rota, which arrived in 2014-15, could still reportedly be permitted without parliamentary approval.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez reportedly previously assured US President Donald Trump of Spain's participation in the international military missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon. It has also been reported that US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper sent a letter to his Spanish counterpart Margarita Robles in September, thanking Madrid for "welcoming" the US forces stationed at both Rota and the Morón Air Base.


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