Romania will assist Washington with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta is this week paying an official visit to Washington. Last week Mircea Dusa discussed with US authorities the terms of a new agreement regarding the withdrawal of US troops and military hardware from Afghanistan via Romania. The logistics of this operation is extremely complex and central to the US strategy in the region. At present US troops are stationed at Manas military airbase in Kyrgyzstan, but its lease is set to expire in July 2014.
Accordingly, the US wants troop airlift operations to shift to Romania, with the two parties already close to reaching a deal in that respect. Over 50,000 US military and military equipment will be transported from Afghanistan through the Port of Constanta on the Romanian Black Sea Coast and the military airbase in Mihail Kogalniceanu, south-eastern Romania. The military base in Kogalniceanu and the port of Constanta have in the past been used as a central hub for moving US troops out of Iraq during the war in 2003.
Regarding the current operation, Romanian Defence Minister Mircea Dusa says it’s important that Pentagon and Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel have praised the good cooperation between the Romanian army and the US, adding that technical terms of the new contract will be agreed upon by logistics officers. Romanian-American military cooperation does not boil down to the withdrawal of US troops and military hardware from Afghanistan.
Romania is already involved in the building of an anti-missile defence system in Deveselu. Over the last years Bucharest has been an active supporting the development of NATO’s anti-missile defense capacity and sees the military base in Deveselu an important pillar of the Romanian-US Strategic Partnership and a valuable contribution to NATO’s military capabilities in the area. The shield will be fully operational as of 2015.