T HE allied troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is already underway in what could be NATO´s last big operation. The North Atlantic Treaty organisation is no longer relevant these days and I suspect that it will diminish in importance over the coming years. Britain has already signaled that it intends to establish a base in the Gulf. This marks the end of an era and the start of a new one. In the 1970s British troops were pulled back from bases East of Suez to concentrate on Britain´s NATO role in Europe. Some British military equipment from Afghanistan is expected to be stored in the Gulf area. The Ministry of Defence argues that it is cheaper to leave equipment in the Gulf than back in Britain. Well that is the theory. There is also talk that Britain could station a Brigade of soldiers East of Suez, along with aircraft and warships. The United States took over from Britain in the Gulf area in the 1970s after the British withdrawal. Now, the British are returning as the Americans scale down their operation to concentrate on the Pacific. The Gulf could also be an excellent place to base Britain´s Reaper drones. They can´t be flown in Britain and their future is in doubt once British troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan. It has taken 40 years for the stupid East of Suez decision to be reversed. The British military will be welcomed with open arms in the Gulf again and their presence could help add some stability to this vital region of the world.