Navy: Bahrain protests not affecting U.S. base
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 16, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany — It remains business as usual for U.S. military personnel stationed in Bahrain, where thousands of demonstrators have been staging protests against their autocratic government.
Raucous demonstrations continued Wednesday on the streets of Bahrain, but Navy officials said there has been no sign that the crowds intend to direct their hostility toward the roughly 4,200 servicemembers who live and work in the country.
“The protests are not directed at the U.S. military presence,” said Jennifer Stride, a spokeswoman for U.S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain. She added that the protests are not taking place in the vicinity of the naval base.
Bahrain, a strategically vital nation that hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, is the latest Arab nation to experience massive political upheaval and calls for democratic reform. Fifth Fleet’s area of responsibility includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, parts of the Indian Ocean and several important shipping lanes.
According to NSA Bahrain, there are 2,250 military and civilians who live off base among the population. Currently, there are no plans to relocate those sailors and civilians to temporary housing on base, Stride said.
“Our Sailors, civilian personnel and family members have been advised to avoid sites where the protests are occurring,” Stride said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “There is no indication that providing any refuge on base is necessary.”
Stride declined to say if additional safety measures are being taken on base, explaining that force protection postures are not discussed publicly.
“We do not have any information at this time that suggests that planned protests are likely to cause significant disruptions,” Stride said. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”