The United States is quietly surveying the possibility of establishing some military presence in the vast area of the Indian Ocean, once dominated by Britain’s Royal Navy. There is no desire to fill the military vacuum created by the British withdrawal from the area east of Suez, officials stress. The purpose of surveying small, mostly uninhabited islands is mainly to get a clear picture of possibilities and for emergency planning, they said. There was once an embryonic plan to set up a joint British-U.S. Base, in fact, only a “staging airfield” as the military call it, on Aldabra island, north of Madagascar. The plan was dropped when the British announced austerity measures and diminishing interest in the defence of the area.
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