Mount Qeren is located in the northwestern part of the Negev, some 20 minutes by car north of Nitsana via Route 211, then a turn into an access road to a training base of the Givat Brigade, 25 km as the crow flies from the Egyptian border, and an hour’s drive from the Gaza Strip border on Route 10. It is code-named “Site 512.”
In other words, it’s the definition of in the middle of nowhere.
And there, on top of Mount Qeren, at site 512, is where the US Army is quietly starting a secret construction that will include a “life support facility,” meaning personnel barracks, according to The Intercept (U.S. Quietly Expands Secret Military Base in Israel).
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told Fox News on October 13 that “There’s no plans or intentions to put US troops on the ground to fight in this fight between Israel and Hamas.” And a couple of days later, when President Joe Biden was asked if the US plans to deploy troops in Israel, he responded: “I don’t think that’s necessary. Israel has one of the finest fighting forces in the country.” But there you have it, anyway, at least according to The Intercept.
On August 2, 2023, the Pentagon snuck the contract announcement on the Mt. Qeren base third on a list of five Army contracts:
“Bryan Ashush JV, Colorado Springs, Colorado, was awarded a $35,889,240 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of a life-support area. Bids were solicited via the internet with five received. Work will be performed in Israel, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 30, 2026. Fiscal 2023 military construction, Army funds in the amount of $35,889,240 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, European District, is the contracting activity (W912GB-23-C-0005).”
Experts, including former CIA senior officials, told The Intercept that the new base is not intended to help Israel stand up to the Hamas or Hezbollah. Site 512 is all about Iran.
The NY Times reported on October 15 that “The Pentagon is rapidly doubling the amount of American firepower deployed in the Middle East in an effort to deter a wider regional war and to carry out possible airstrikes to defend American interests.”
The Times noted that the US Air Force is sending land-based attack planes to the Persian Gulf, in addition to the Fifth Fleet’s aircraft carriers already there. The Air Force is doubling the number of F-16, A-10, and F-15E squadrons on the ground, which, combined with the four squadrons of F/A-18 jets aboard each carrier, form “an aerial armada of more than 100 attack planes.”
The Al Udeid Air Base is home to the headquarters of the United States Central Command (USCC) and United States Air Force Central Command (USAFCC). It is the largest land base of the US military and it happens to be located west of Doha, the capital of Qatar, and is owned by the Qatar Emiri Air Force. And it so happens that Qatar is also Iran’s closest ally and an enthusiastic participant in Iran’s efforts to spread terrorism around the region and the world.
The other major US bases are in Saudi Arabia, and, like the base in Qatar, are subject to the whims of the royal family. One day, the US will be ordered to withdraw from those Arab lands.
This is why those industrious Bryan Ashush JV contractors from Colorado Springs are laboring under the Negev sun to build a new base that should hold, according to estimate, at least 1,000 US military personnel. Because Israel is much less likely to tell the Yankees to go home any time soon.
Back in the summer of 2022, the IDF ran a color story about the improvements that were to be added to the Givati training base on Mt. Qeren. The article promised “Extensive renovation. Service conditions will be improved, problems will be fixed – and all out of concern for the well-being of the soldiers.”
In November of 2022, another color story was published, this time about all the promised improvements that had been delivered. All of them for the comfort and well-being of the fighting men and women of the Givati Brigade.
And maybe, just maybe, the area was being prepared for a different military contingency altogether.