Oman is a country about the size of Kansas, located on the Arabian peninsula and bordered by Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. Its population is approximately 2.8 million, of which a sizable portion (nearly 580,000) are foreign nationals. The economy is primarily based on oil.
Oman is a monarchy, and has been ruled since 1970 by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. Although the Sultan wields absolute power, Oman has a slightly more open society than its neighbors Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and also has a somewhat better human rights record than many Arab countries.
U.S. Military Presence
During the war in Afghanistan and in the leadup to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, Oman cooperated extensively with the United States by serving as a staging area and transfer point for a variety of forces. Three different air bases in Oman serve as U.S. pre-positioning points for so-called War Reserve Materiel, stored at various forward locations in preparation for operations:
- Seeb International Airport houses the 763rd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and the 4410th Air Refueling Squadron. In the leadup to the war, it is believed to have housed an American fighter squadron.
- Thumrait Air Base housed the 386th Air Expeditionary Group and the 405th Air Expeditionary Wing, which apparently included 8 B-1B bombers that had previously been based on the island of Diego Garcia.
- Masirah Air Base, on an island in the Arabian Sea, housed the 355th Air Expeditionary Group and a squadron of AC-130 gunships.
A number of British military units also operated out of Oman.
Center for Defense Information (2002). U.S. Forces in the Middle East. Retrieved June 7, 2004.
GlobalSecurity.org (2002). Oman Facilities. Retrieved June 7, 2004.