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Baghdad -- U.S. military commanders have prepared plans to consolidate U.S. troops in Iraq into four large air bases as they look ahead to giving up more than 100 other bases now occupied by international forces, officers said.
Several officers involved in drafting the consolidation plan said it entailed the construction of longer-lasting buildings at the sites, including barracks and office structures made of concrete block instead of the metal trailers and tin-sheathed buildings that have become the norm at bigger U.S. bases in Iraq. The new, sturdier buildings will give the bases a more permanent character, the officers acknowledged.
The consolidation plan appears to reflect a judgment by U.S. military commanders that American forces are likely to be in Iraq for some years, even after their numbers begin to decline, and that they probably will continue to face danger. The new buildings are being designed to withstand direct mortar strikes, according to a senior military engineer.