According to the newspaper, Hagel wrote a letter to Spanish authorities proposing to introduce changes to the 1988 Agreement on Defense Cooperation between the US and Spain in order to “turn Morón de la Frontera into a permanent base for responding on crises in Africa.”
In accordance with the March 2014 agreement between the two countries, 850 US troops are currently deployed at the airbase and if necessary this number can be increased to 1,110. The agreement expires in April 2015. According to El Pais, Washington wants permission to increase this number to 3,000 troops.
Spain has been an important military partner of the US. In 2011, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero permitted NATO to use the Rota naval base in Cádiz as the top center for the Alliance's sea-based department of anti-missile defense. During the Ukrainian crisis, two US Navy destroyers left the base and moved to the Black Sea.