This is the base swimming pool at Balad Air Base north of Baghdad. The MSNBC article cited here suggests that this pool and the permanent buildings in the background are "evidence" of an intent to maintain permanent basing in Iraq. I sure do hope that the US government does not have such an intention. There is a long history in the ME of the local peoples fiercely resisting what they see as the re-colonizing of their countries. Permanent basing in Iraq would be a certain and inevitable cause for un-ending armed resistance to our presence.
Having said that, it is nevertheless true that this pool proves nothing. Balad was the site of the Iraqi Air Force Academy and that is the academy’s swimming pool. The buildings are the academy’s buildings. They were there before 2003.
This "Burger King" at Asad base in the west is another supposed "evidence" of permanence. I don’t "buy" this argument. The US military is a volunteer force recruited from a population that expects a certain standard of living. The military has to retain highly trained and motivated people. They know that protracted hardship in living conditions will aggravate retention problems. US bases everywhere, including in the US, have fast food restaurants all over them. It is a sign of the times, a sign of the present state of our culture. Ever since WW2 we have fed and supplied our armed forces with a lavishness that is astonishing. This is nothing new. It is just the way we do things. Big American bases in VN were just as lavish as this.
The truth is that there is a lot of money available and commanders are making their people as comfortable as they can. The USAF brigadier general in this article who says that the ultimate intention of the US Government will govern their disposition has it exactly right. The military do not make such decisions, and they should not.