Camp Bondsteel and Americas plans to control Caspian oil
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Subject: [JUGOINFO] Camp Bondsteel and Americas plans to control Caspian
Date: Wed, 1 May 2002 15:26:12 +0200
From: "jugocoord at libero.it" <jugocoord at libero.it>
To: crj-mailinglist at yahoogroups.com,jugoinfo at domeus.it
From: World Socialist Web Site - www.wsws.org
WSWS : News & Analysis : Europe : The Balkans
Camp Bondsteel and America's plans to control Caspian oil
By Paul Stuart
29 April 2002
Camp Bondsteel, the biggest "from scratch" foreign US military
base since the Vietnam War is near completion in the Yugoslav
province of Kosovo.
It is located close to vital oil pipelines and energy
corridors presently under construction, such as the US
sponsored Trans-Balkan oil pipeline.
As a result defence contractors-in particular Halliburton
Oil subsidiary Brown & Root Services-are making a fortune.
In June 1999, in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of
Yugoslavia, US forces seized 1,000 acres of farmland in southeast
Kosovo at Uresevac, near the Macedonian border, and began the
construction of a camp.
Camp Bondsteel is known as the "grand dame" in a network of US
bases running both sides of the border between Kosovo and
Macedonia. In less than three years it has been transformed from an
encampment of tents to a self sufficient, high tech base-camp housing
nearly 7,000 troops-three quarters of all the US troops stationed in
There are 25 kilometres of roads and over 300 buildings at Camp
Bondsteel, surrounded by 14 kilometres of earth and concrete
barriers, 84 kilometres of concertina wire and 11 watch towers.
It is so big that it has downtown, midtown and uptown districts,
retail outlets, 24-hour sports halls, a chapel, library and the
best-equipped hospital anywhere in Europe. At present there are
55 Black Hawk and Apache helicopters based at Bondsteel
and although it has no aircraft landing strip the
location was chosen for its capacity to expand. There are
suggestions that it could replace the US airforce base at
Aviano in Italy.
According to Colonel Robert L. McClure, writing in the engineers
professional Bulletin, "Engineer planning for operations in
Kosovo began months before the first bomb was dropped. At the
outset, planners wanted to use the lessons learned in Bosnia and
convinced decision makers to reach base-camp "end state" as
quickly as possible."
Initially US military engineers took control of 320 kilometres of
roads and 75 bridges in the surrounding area for military use and
laid out a base camp template involving soldiers living quarters,
helicopter flight paths, ammunition holding areas and so on.
McClure explains how the Engineer Brigade were instructed "to
merge construction assets and integrate them with the contractor,
Brown & Root Services Corporation, to build not one but two base
camps [the other is Camp Monteith] for a total of 7,000 troops."
According to McClure, "At the height of the effort, about 1,000
expatriates [former military personnel] hired by Brown & Root,
along with more than 7,000 Albanian local nationals, joined
the 1,700 military engineers. From early July and into October
, construction at both camps continued 24 hours a day,
seven days a week."
Brown & Root Services provides all the support services to Camp
Bondsteel. This includes 600,000 gallons of water per-day, enough
electricity to supply a city of 25,000 and a supply centre with
14,000 product lines. It washes 1,200 bags of laundry, supplies
18,000 meals per day and operates 95 percent of the rail and
airfield facilities. It also provides the camps firefighting service.
Brown & Root are now the largest employers in Kosovo, with more than
5,000 local Kosovan Albanians and another 15,000 on its books.
Staff at Camp Bondsteel rarely venture outside the compound and
their activities are secretive. Whilst other KFOR patrols are small
and mobile with soldiers wearing soft caps and instructed to
integrate with the local population, US military personnel leave
Bondsteel in either helicopters or as part of infrequent but large
heavily armed convoys.
In unnamed interviews US troops complain that hostility to their
presence is growing as local inhabitants compare the investment in
Camp Bondsteel with the continuing decline in their own living
Those visiting Camp Bondsteel describe it as a journey through
100 years in time. The area surrounding the camp is extremely poor
with an unemployment rate of 80 percent. Then Bondsteel appears on
the horizon with its mass of communication satellites, antennae and
menacing attack helicopters circling above. Brown & Root pay Kosova
workers between $1 and $3 per hour. The local manager said wages
were so low because, "We can't inflate the wages because we don't
want to over inflate the local economy."
The escalating US presence at Bondsteel was accompanied by
increased activity by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Since
its appearance most Serbs, Roma and Albanians opposed to the
KLA have been murdered or driven out. Those remaining dare
not leave their houses to buy food at the local stores and
the need for military escorts stretch from children's swimming
pools to tractors taken away for repair. According to
observers the KLA continue to act with virtual impunity in
the US sector despite the high tech military intelligence
facilities at Bondsteel.
When US troops arrive at Camp Bondsteel, they are more likely to
be met by a Brown & Root employee directing them to their
accommodation and equipment areas. According to G. Cahlink in
Government Executive Magazine (February 2002), "Army peace
keepers joke that they're missing a patch on their camouflage
fatigues. 'We need one that says Sponsored by Brown & Root,'
says a staff sergeant, who, like more than nearly 10,000 soldiers
in the region, has come to rely on Brown and Root Services, a
Houston based contractor, for everything from breakfast
to spare parts for armoured Humvees."
The contract to service Camp Bondsteel is the latest in a string of
military contracts awarded to Brown & Root Services. Its fortunes
have grown as US militarism has escalated. The company is part of the
Halliburton Corporation, the largest supplier of products and
services to the oil industry.
Brown & Root first rose to prominence in 1992 after Dick Cheney,
as Secretary of Defence in the senior Bush administration,
awarded the company its first contract providing support for the US
army's global operations. Cheney left politics and joined Halliburton
as CEO between 1995 and 2000. He is now US vice president in the
junior Bush administration. In 1992 Brown & Root built and maintained
US army bases in Somalia earning $62 million. In 1994 Brown & Root
built bases and support systems for 18,000 troops in Haiti doubling
its earnings to $133 million. The company received a five-year
support contract in 1999 worth $180 million per-year to build
military facilities in Hungary, Croatia and
Bosnia. It was Camp Bondsteel, however, that was dubbed "the
mother of all contracts" by the Washington based Contract
Services Association of America. There, "We do everything that
does not require us to carry a gun," said Brown & Roots director
The aim of outsourcing military support and services to private
contractors has been to free up more soldiers for combat duties.
A US Department of Defence (DoD) review in 2001 insisted that the use
of contractors would escalate: "Only those functions that must be
done at DoD should be kept at DoD."
In sectors controlled by other Western powers, KFOR soldiers
who are living in bombed out apartment blocks and old factories
joke, "What are the two things that can be seen from space?
One is the Great Wall of China, the other is Camp Bondsteel."
More seriously a senior British military officer told the Washington
Post, "It is an obvious sign that the Americans are making a major
commitment to the Balkan region and plan to stay." One analyst
described the US as having taken advantage of favourable
circumstances to create a base that would be large enough
to accommodate future military plans.
Camp Bondsteel has become a key venue for important policy
speeches by leading officials of the Bush administration.
On June 5, 2001 US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld
explained to troops at Camp Bondsteel what role they played
in the new administration's economic strategy. He declared,
"How much should we spend on the armed services? ...My view is
we don't spend on you, we invest in you. The men and women in
the armed services are not a drain on our economic strength.
Indeed you safeguard it. You're not a burden on our economy,
you are the critical foundation for growth."
One month later, President George W. Bush made his first trip
abroad to see US troops at the camp. He traveled directly from the
Rome G8 summit, where tensions with European governments had come to
the fore. In a speech described as a "retrenching" of the US in
Europe, he insisted that US troops were in Kosovo to stay, had
gone in together and would "leave together". In a break from normal
procedure, in front of cheering troops, Bush signed into law a
Congress-approved increase in military spending of $1.9 billion.
Since then Camp Bondsteel has continued to grow, as it
spearheads the first phase in a realignment of US military bases in
Europe and eastward. The Bondsteel template is now being applied in
Afghanistan and the new bases in the former Soviet Republics.
According to leaked comments to the press, European politicians
now believe that the US used the bombing of Yugoslavia
specifically in order to establish Camp Bondsteel. Before the
start of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the Washington Post
insisted, "With the Middle-East increasingly fragile, we will
need bases and fly over rights in the Balkans to protect Caspian
The scale of US oil corporations investment in the exploitation of
Caspian oil fields and the US government demand for the economy
to be less dependent on imported oil, particularly from the
Middle-East, demands a long term solution to the transportation
of oil to European and US markets. The US Trade & Development
Agency (TDA) has financed initial feasibility studies, with large
grants, and more recently advanced technical studies for the New York
based AMBO (Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria Oil) Trans-Balkan pipeline.
Announcing a grant for an advanced technical study in 1999 for the
AMBO oil pipeline through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, TDA
director J. Joseph Grandmaison declared, "The competition is fierce
to tap energy resources in the Caspian region....Over the last
year , TDA has been actively promoting the development of
multiple pipelines to connect these vast resources with Western
markets. This grant represents a significant step forward for this
policy and for US business interests in the Caspian region."
The $1.3 billion trans-Balkan AMBO pipeline is one of the most
important of these multiple pipelines. It will pump oil from the
tankers that bring it across the Black Sea to the Bulgarian oil
terminus at Burgas, through Macedonia to the Albanian Adriatic
port of Vlore. From there it will be pumped on to huge 300,000
ton tankers and sent on to Europe and the US, bypassing the
Bosphorus Straits-the congested and only route out
of the Black Sea where tankers are restricted to 150,000 tons.
The initial feasibility study for AMBO was conducted in 1995 by
none other than Brown & Root, as was an updated feasibility study
in 1999. In another twist, the former director of Oil & Gas
Development for Europe and Africa for Brown & Root Energy Services,
Ted Ferguson, was appointed as the new president of AMBO  after
the death of former president and founder of AMBO, Macedonian born Mr
According to a recent Reuters article, Ferguson declared that
Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, two of the worlds largest oil
corporations, are preparing to finance the AMBO project.
The building of AMBO risks antagonising Turkey, the US's main
ally in the region. According to the Reagan Information
Interchange, "While the United States is making an advantageous
economic decision, it is overlooking its crucial strategic
relationship with Turkey."
The US is also antagonising its European allies and Russia with
Camp Bondsteel and other smaller military bases run alongside the
proposed AMBO pipeline route. It has been built near the mouth of the
Presevo valley and energy Corridor 8, which the European Union
has sponsored since 1994 and regards as a strategic route
east-west for global trade.
In April 1999, British General Michael Jackson, the commander in
Macedonia during the NATO bombing of Serbia, explained to the
Italian paper Sole 24 Ore "Today, the circumstances which we have
created here have changed. Today, it is absolutely necessary to
guarantee the stability of Macedonia and its entry into NATO.
But we will certainly remain here a long time so that we can also
guarantee the security of the energy corridors which traverse this
The newspaper added, "It is clear that Jackson is referring to the
8th corridor, the East-West axis which ought to be combined to
the pipeline bringing energy resources from Central Asia to
terminals in the Black Sea and in the Adriatic, connecting Europe
with Central Asia. That explains why the great and medium sized
powers, and first of all Russia, don't want to be excluded from the
settling of scores that will take place over the next few months
in the Balkans."
World Socialist Web Site
All rights reserved
FOR FAIR USE ONLY
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