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U.S. path in Iraq runs through Tampa Bay | News

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U.S. path in Iraq runs through Tampa Bay

Tampa, Florida -- As the world's attention turns back to Iraq, it will also be turning back to Tampa Bay.

However, President Obama responds to the crumbling conditions in Iraq, the people in charge of pulling off the plan are our neighbors.

MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa is one of the most vital military bases on Earth, and you can bet -- now especially -- the talk between Tampa and Washington is almost nonstop.

With military pomp and precision, the new head of all U.S. Marines in the Middle East took his post Tuesday in front of a crowd inside a MacDill hangar.


"We see ourselves as being forward-deployed, ready to respond to things that develop in the course of a day -- so we can be on the scene that afternoon," Lt. Gen. Frank McKenzie said.

McKenzie is a big part of two different teams at MacDill that will be all over any American operation in Iraq. McKenzie works with U.S. Central Command -- CENTCOM.

From their headquarters at MacDill, CENTCOM's staff oversees all of the American troops in 20 Middle East countries, from Egypt northeast to Kazakhstan. Any battle plans for Iraq will be dreamed up with the expertise of the people at CENTCOM in Tampa.

The other big Bay area team involved with Iraq is U.S. Special Operations Command -- SOCOM. SOCOM oversees all of America's elite units: Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Army Rangers, and more.

Sources say an option on the president's desk right now is to send some of those special operators into Iraq to train and advise the Iraqi army.

No matter what path the president takes, that path will come right through Tampa Bay.


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