Socotra is situated 80 kilometers east of the Horn of Africa and 380 kilometers southeast of the Yemeni coastline. It lies athwart the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. A military base there is in a position to oversee the shipping moving in and out of those strategic naval waterways.
Lushly verdant, Socotra is approximately 120 kilometers long by 40 kilometers wide. Its population of 55,000 has its own distinct language and culture. Since 2010, the US has been quietly building giant air force and naval bases on Socotra with facilities for submarines, intelligence command centers and take-off pads for flying stealth drones, as part of a linked chain of strategic US military facilities in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.
The Socotra facilities are so secret that they are never mentioned in any catalogue listing US military facilities in this part of the world, which include Jebel Ali and Al Dahfra in the United Arab Emirates; Arifjan in Kuwait; and Al Udeid in Qatar – all within short flying distances from Iran.