Thanks to Jerry Niemeier for providing this document.
|A story from Palo Alto Times Palo Alto, California,
April 4 1970
by C. C. Miniclier
U.S. base in Ethiopia has benefits, but may be phased out
|ASMARA, Ethiopia (AP) - Kagnew Station, a $70 million military
communications base is an American oasis in Ethiopian Eritrea. How long it will
continue to exist is under review.
The 25 year lease expires in 1978. Satellite communications, coupled with an increasing U.S. tendency to phase out overseas bases, may prompt American officials to let the base go. It is expensive to operate, with most of the commissary food coming by sea and plane from the United States.
With the closing of Wheeler Air Force Base after last year's coup in Libya, this 2,200 acre communications center and smaller Navy facility at Kenitra, Morocco, are the last two U.S. bases in Africa.
Secretary of State, William P. Rogers held a private meeting with a cross- section of Ethiopians during his February vist to Addis Ababa to hear their Kagnew and U.S. policy in Ethiopia.
An immediate result was a pamplet to refute statements, doubts and complaints about by some Arabs and local students who have charged that Kagnew is a secret base for missles.
Military authorities say the center's purpose is to relay military and diplomatic communications. It is one of three global communications points for presidential trips.
U.S. officials deny Kagnew is a vital listening or monitoring post for the Middle East and north into the Soviet Union.
The station is on the edge of a 7,600 foot plateau 30 air miles from the Red Sea. Italian and British communcation experts used the site before the U.S. agreement of May 22, 1952.
Fifteen hundred soliders and about the same number of wives and children are stationed here along with 159 State Department employees and civilians, including teachers.
Support facilities include a rest and recreation center to the north in Keren, a small town dominated by an old Turkish fort now used by Israeli-trained police commandos in their efforts against the Eritrean Liberation Front.
To the east in the port of Massawa, are other rest facilities, speedboats and a transportation unit which handles seaborne supplies.
Americans assigned to this remote post have steaks from New Orleans and American beer. A bowling alley runs 22 hours a day.
There is a 12,000 volume libary, elementary and high school for 500 students; 69 bed hospital; 12-14 hours a day of Armed Forces Television and round-the- clock Armed Forces Radio, as well as service clubs and on-base water and electricity.
The Americans cultivate good relations with the 200,000 inhabitants of adjacent Asmara, second largest city in Ethiopia after Addis Ababa.
The base offers training for Ethiopians in a wide field of subjects. It supports 500 Ethiopian Boy Scouts, is host to student visits, and works closely with police in enforcing discipline of Americans off post.
Much of the base area of five square miles, given over antenna farms, is cultivated by local farmers who guide their oxen around the antennas.
Last year, officials here say, more than $5.3million was poured into the local economy in the form of rental payments, salaries for 1,700 local employees, and other expenses. The figure does not inclde payments to domestic help. Actual per capita income in Ethiopia is bout $50.
Roughly half of the U.S. aid to Africa comes to Ethiopia. Emperor Haille Selassie's army and air force use U.S. equipment.