US may use Spanish base as centre for special forces.

The United States is considering a plan to concentrate its special forces units in Europe, at present scattered across the continent, at its base at Rota, near Cadiz in southern Spain, the El Pais newspaper reported Monday.

At the moment marine, army and air force special forces units are stationed in Britain, Germany and Italy.

A possible regrouping of the forces at Rota could be discussed during a visit by Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono to the United States this week, his first since the Socialist government came to office in 2004 and pulled its forces out of Iraq.

He is due to meet US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday in Washington.

According to El Pais, General James Jones, commander in chief of US forces in Europe, plans to create an "advance post" for US special forces somewhere in southern Europe to "confront the emerging threats in eastern Europe, the Caucasus and in a large part of Africa."

Such a move would be in line with the Pentagon's decision to regroup its forces in Europe and cut back the number of its bases on the continent.

The move would also bring US special forces closer to Africa. Recently they have conducted manoeuvres or training missions in Morocco, Algeria and various countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

[Source: Agence France-Presse, Madrid, 02May05]

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