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Hagel Completes Mideast Tour; Confirms U.S. Presence

Stars & Stripes reports that “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrapped up his five-country trip to the Middle East on Tuesday in a meeting with troops at a critical U.S. air hub that once dared not speak its name.”

“But the former ‘airbase in Southwest Asia,’ as Stars and Stripes and other publications for years referred to Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar, at the military’s request, is now being publicly acknowledged by Pentagon and Air Force officials.

“The shift is symbolic, officials said, of the immutability of the U.S. presence in the Middle East even as the Afghan war winds down and the United States focuses increasingly on the Asia-Pacific region. It’s a message Hagel conveyed repeatedly meetings over the past several days with officials in Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.”

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