The tiny island nation of Bahrain plays a big role in America's Middle East strategy. In fact, more than 6,000 U.S. military personnel and contractors are located just five miles from where government security forces violently put down demonstrations this week.
Bahrain is also home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, a major logistics hub for the U.S. Navy ships... "It has facilities that can provide support to our ships, including, you know, fuel, water provisions, resupply," retired Rear Adm. Steve Pietropaoli says.
Those facilities have been resupplying warships for nearly a half-century, ever since Great Britain's fleet left the island. Bahrain provided major basing facilities and support for the armada of U.S. Navy ships sent for the first Persian Gulf War in 1990 and the Iraq War in 2003...
So what does Bahrain get out of this relationship besides rent? It receives security guarantees from the United States.
That's just the start. The Bahraini Defense Force sends its personnel to the U.S. for training and it buys high-quality American weapons as well. American military sales to Bahrain have totaled nearly $1.5 billion in the past decade alone.
Those sales include everything from Apache and Cobra attack helicopters to F-16 warplanes, missile launchers and howitzers, plus more than 50 Abrams tanks — some of which now patrol Bahrain's capital of Manama.