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The republics of Central Asia, which received comparatively little attention from the United States in their first ten years of independence, suddenly increased in value when the United States deployed forces and set up bases of operation in the region in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In that context, the U.S. government stepped up its cooperation programs with the host countries. Although the short-term needs of OEF have seemed clear, long-term U.S. interests in the region require careful consideration and analysis. This document identifies the implications for the U.S. Air Force of the trends in the region and of U.S. and other nations’ interests in Central Asia. The authors conclude that the U.S. military should have a relatively minor, but still important, role in U.S. security policy toward the area. An effective strategy for future U.S. military engagement in Central Asia would have three main components: maintenance of a “semi-warm” basing infrastructure; a carefully chosen program of military-to-military interactions; and encouraging basic interoperability between local militaries and the West.

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