The United States and Kuwait are working collectively towards the common goal of a stable, secure, and prosperous Middle East. Kuwait is also a vital U.S. partner on a wide range of regional security issues and a leader in the Global Coalition to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The United States works with Kuwait and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to increase cooperation on border security, maritime security, arms transfers, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism. The access, basing, and overflight privileges granted by Kuwait facilitate U.S. and Global Coalition partners in the fight against ISIS, as well as operations against al-Qa’ida, and their regional and global affiliates.
In 1991, as part of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, U.S. military forces led a multinational coalition to expel the forces of the former Iraqi regime from Kuwait. Kuwait subsequently served as the major logistics base for U.S. and Coalition operations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing up to 60 percent of its territory for coalition use. Kuwait also assisted with the drawdown of U.S. combat forces and equipment from Iraq that was completed in 2011.
The United States and Kuwait have a 1991 Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) and a 2013 Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), supporting our robust presence in Kuwait. Approximately 13,500 U.S. forces are based in Kuwait, primarily at Camp Arifjan and Ali al-Salem Air Base. Only Germany, Japan, and South Korea host more U.S. forces than Kuwait does. The United States currently maintains 2,200 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in Kuwait. The majority of these vehicles are prepositioned for any necessary U.S. Army operations, and the remainder are contracted for distribution to partners throughout the region.
Since 2004, Kuwait has been designated as a Major Non-NATO Ally, which provides a number of benefits reserved to NATO and allied nations, including potential participation in cooperative Research and Development, priority delivery for Excess Defense Articles, and reciprocally-funded cooperative training.
The U.S. has $19.95 billion in active government-to-government sales cases with Kuwait under the foreign military sales (FMS) system. FMS cases notified to Congress are listed here , and recent and significant prior sales include: AH-64E Apache helicopters; system spares for Patriot configuration 3+; M1A2K training ammunition and related equipment; 84 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile segment enhancements (MSEs); Patriot missile repair and return program; Patriot program sustainment and technical assistance support; M88A2 recovery vehicles; 28 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft; 218 M1A2 tanks; 5 fast patrol boats; sustainment and contractor logistics support for AH-64D Apache helicopters; and MIM-104E Patriot, TOW, AGM-114R Hellfire, AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM missiles, and MK82, 83, and 84 bombs.
The United States Interagency Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) Task Force provides training on MANPADS Recognition and threats to aviation security to border security, aviation security, and defense personnel working on the front lines to fight illicit weapons proliferation. Since 2019, the MANPADS Task Force has provided MANPADS recognition and interdiction training to 9 Kuwaiti security officials.
Since 2016, the United States has also authorized the permanent export of over $416 million in defense articles to Kuwait via the direct commercial sales (DCS) process. The top categories of DCS to Kuwait include military electronics, fire control/night vision, and aircraft.
These defense sales have substantially developed the capacity of the Kuwait military to defend itself, combat terrorism, and promote regional security and stability.
The Ministry of Interior and the Kuwait National Guard have also partnered with the Embassy’s Office of Military Cooperation through the Joint and Combined Exchange Training program. This program works with local counterterrorism units via training and bilateral exercises to increase Kuwait’s counterterrorism capacity.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM .