The U.S. Department of Defense and Qatar’s Ministry of Defense signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning Qatar’s support of DOD activities at Al Udeid Air Base (AUAB) during the second U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in Doha, Qatar Jan. 13.
The MOU will help promote interoperability, support regional stability, and reaffirm the U.S.-Qatar defense relationship, according to the Pentagon. It also represents a positive step towards the eventual formalization of Qatar’s commitment to support sustainment costs and future infrastructure costs at AUAB, which the State of Qatar proposed at the first U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in January 2018.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Michael Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, jointly witnessed the signing ceremony. The Principal Director for Middle East Policy in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense Ms. Jennifer Zakriski and Brigadier General Fahad al-Sulaiti, Director of the International Military Cooperation Authority, General Headquarters, Qatar Armed Forces signed the MOU on behalf of their respective governments.
Separately, both the U.S. and Qatari delegations to the Strategic Dialogue hailed the many achievements in the bilateral military relationship in the past year, including joint exercises, U.S. ship visits to Doha, and the implementation of standard operating procedures designed to facilitate customs, immigration, and operational processes that will deepen the security and military partnership.
Since 2003, Qatar has hosted U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Special Operations Command (SOCCENT) Forward Headquarters and U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) at AUAB, the largest U.S. military installation in the Middle East with over 11,000 U.S. and Coalition service members. AUAB has served as the primary staging ground for most air operations in the campaign to defeat ISIS.
The U.S. and the State of Qatar have had a longstanding and multi-faceted bilateral military relationship which is guided by shared goals to combat terrorism, deter criminality in the Arabian Gulf and promote regional security and stability, the Pentagon said in a statement.