US expands base in Rota, Spain

map.spain_gibraltar_rotaUNDER the hoax of “protecting Europe from the threat of attack from Iran” and the cause of freedom and democracy, the United States has deployed four interceptor missile warships to Rota, Spain, thereby boosting the military strategic significance of Rota, the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa.

Naval Station Activity Rota (Base Naval de Rota), which also includes an airfield, was established on a 6,100-acre Spanish base in 1953 as part of the Madrid Pact between the United States and the fascist dictator Franco. Even while the US was billing the new NATO military bloc as a bulwark for democracy and “Eur-Atlantic values,” it was expanding relations with the fascist powers of Spain and Portugal, a founding member of NATO.

It augmented  military bases the USA had already established in Libya, Morocco and on the Portuguese Azores archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, using positions it had craftily seized during World War II from  rival imperialist powers, as well as within fascist Spain itself.

In 1948 Rockefeller’s Standard Oil established a refinery at Escombreras near Cartagena, a southern port in Andulusia on the Mediterranean coast, with crude oil shipped from the Persian Gulf wells of its co-subsidiary, the Arabian American Oil Co. The refinery was a joint venture with Spanish capital, representing a change in Franco’s protectionist policy. Rockefeller cashed in credits earned from its WWII collaboration with fascism. Throughout WWII, Standard Oil had shipped crude oil from the Caribbean to fascist Spain, which was then transhipped to Hitlerite Germany. Meanwhile, Nelson Rockefeller as US Secretary of State for Latin America ensured the preservation of fascist regimes.

“Cartagena, with its arsenal,” according to A Geography of Spain and Portugal (1962), “is a military and naval base of some importance.” Another study pointed out: 

“To complete the picture, mention should be made of two additional naval facilities and seven radar sites in various parts of Spain. The naval facilities are an oil storage and supply center at El Ferrol in northwestern Spain, and a similar but much larger center, together with an ammunition storage site, at Cartagena on the Mediterranean coast.” (Arthur P. Whitaker, Spain and Defense of the West; Ally and Liability (New York: Harper & Brothers, for the Council on Foreign Relations, 1961), p. 58.) 

The refinery was a precondition to the Madrid Pact between US and Spain, 1953.

Rota was thus actually the fourth base established in Spain, a Cold War submarine port and logistical way-station at the western edge of the Mediterranean Sea. 

Described by the US Navy as the “Gateway to the Mediterranean,” Naval Station Rota is strategically located near Cádiz and the Strait of Gibraltar, an area recognized for its strategic, maritime importance over the centuries, and at the halfway point between the United States and Southwest Asia. Because of location, the base provides support to both US Sixth Fleet units in the Mediterranean and to USAF Air Mobility Command units transiting to Germany and Southwest Asia. 

With the scheduled arrival of four U.S. missile destroyers in 2014 and 2015, the base will once again return to the front lines of U.S. strategy in the region, writes Steven Beardsley in Stars and Stripes. – TS

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Spanish people demonstrate in Cadiz against Rota base and NATO, May 12, 2008

Spanish people demonstrate in Cadiz against Rota base and NATO, May 12, 2008

ROTA, Spain (Jan. 7): THE former Cold War submarine base in this sleepy town in southern Spain is about to experience a dramatic transformation — it will become the centerpiece of NATO’s new ballistic missile defense shield stretching across southern and eastern Europe.

In February, the first of four U.S. Aegis missile destroyers, the USS Donald Cook, is scheduled to arrive here for permanent stationing. Another ship will come later in 2014, followed by two more in 2015. The Arleigh-Burke class ships, which are capable of shooting down ballistic missiles, will patrol the Mediterranean basin on four-month rotations on a mission to protect Europe from the threat of attack from Iran.

The program, known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach, is part of a wider NATO plan that includes land-based interceptor batteries in Romania and Poland and a radar system in Turkey. The plan has caused a major rift with Russia, which says the shield is aimed against its own nuclear missile arsenal.

Rota, located near the Strait of Gibraltar, will nearly double in population by the time the last ship arrives in 2015. The four vessels will bring more sailors and families to the town, as well as strategic significance as a base that is on the front lines of U.S. strategy in the region.

“We’re not a sleepy hollow anymore,” base commanding officer Capt. Gregory S. Pekari said.

Stationing the destroyers at Rota allows for their seamless rotation without draining manpower because of long deployments from the United States, said Vice Adm. William Hunter Hilarides, head of the Naval Sea Systems Command.

The arrival of the ships coincides with increased U.S. interest in the Mediterranean and Africa, where an area of instability ranges from Syria down to Egypt and across much of northern Africa… The Mediterranean also remains the gateway for U.S. deployments to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, where operations in Afghanistan and tensions with Iran have led to increased tours by carrier groups and smaller craft.

The four destroyers will significantly add to the number of ships controlled by the U.S. Sixth Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, a command that for years has had only its flagship, the USS Mount Whitney, as a permanent presence.

The U.S. established Rota in 1953 in a deal with Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in exchange for economic and military aid to the fascist regime.

Located inside a 6,100-acre Spanish base on the Bay of Cadiz, the installation offered a way-station to ships and aircraft transiting the Atlantic before entering the Mediterranean. In 1960, it received a squadron of Skywarrior reconnaissance jets.

Rota further expanded with the arrival of the Polaris missile-wielding Submarine Squadron 16 from Charleston, S.C., in 1964.

But by 1979, the submarines had been redeployed to the U.S. East Coast. Anti-submarine and maritime patrol units continued, although the budget cuts of the 1990s lowered the pace of operations at Rota.

The base played a minor role in the logistical chain for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military population began to fall in earnest in 2003 — from 12,000 personnel in the 1970s and 80s, Rota had dipped to 3,700 by 2008.

It was against this dire backdrop that Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2011 announced the agreement for Rota to host a component of NATO’s new ballistic missile shield. The four Aegis ships would join a radar unit in Turkey and the future “Aegis-Ashore” launching sites in Romania and Poland.

Among the benefits to the Spanish economy are a 200 million euros ($276 million) maintenance contract for a state-owned ship builder, Cadiz-based Navantia. Other benefits are expected to trickle into the surrounding economy. Roughly 1,200 sailors and 1,800 family members are expected with the ships, officials here say.

On base, changes have been minor because the infrastructure was already in place for larger populations, said base commanding officer Capt. Gregory S. Pekari.

“The infrastructure, including the commissary and the exchange, which is fairly new, was all built upon the premise of the previous population in 2003,” he said.

Some construction around the pier, including a weapons magazine and a warehouse for equipment from destroyers, is planned for the near future, Pekari said. By the end of 2013, the biggest outward change included the arrival of a maintenance detachment in December.

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the detachment last month, Hilarides said the move played a significant part in what was coming to Rota.

“Simply put, this detachment is a very, very important underpinning for a strategic shift for the United States Navy,” he said.

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