Al Asad Airbase

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Al Asad Airbase
Al Asad Air Base Patch 2007.jpg
IATA: noneICAO: ORAALID: MAA
Summary
Airport type Military: Airbase
Operator United States Air Force
Location Al Anbar Province, Iraq
In use until 2011
Elevation AMSL 618 ft / 188 m
Coordinates 33°48′N 42°26′E / 33.800°N 42.433°E / 33.800; 42.433Coordinates: 33°48′N 42°26′E / 33.800°N 42.433°E / 33.800; 42.433
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
09R/27L 13,100 3,990 Asphalt
09L/27R 13,100 3,990 Asphalt
08/26 10,100 3,090 Packed Dirt
no ILS
Al-Asad AB is located in Iraq
Al-Asad AB
Al-Asad AB
Magnify-clip.png
Location of Al-Asad Air Base, Iraq

Al Asad Airbase (ICAO: ORAA) was the second largest US military airbase in Iraq and is located in the largely Sunni western Province of Iraq Al Anbar. Until January 2010, it was the home of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF). Other major tenants have included the 3rd ID's 4th IBCT, 82nd Airborne Division Advise & Assist Brigade, 332nd Medical Brigade, 321st Sustainment Brigade, Vertical Onboard Delivery Detachment-1 (VOD-1),[1] VAQ-142, Navy Customs Battalion Juliet, elements of the Iraqi Army's 7th Division, and the United States Air Force (USAF).

Geography[edit]

Plaque commemorating the completion of Qadisiyah AB in 1987.
Graphic depiction of Al Asad's location

The base is located in the Hīt District of Al Anbar Governorate, about 100 miles (160 km) west of Baghdad and 5 miles (8.0 km) west of the village of Khan al Baghdadi.

The airbase is divided by Wādī al Asadī (وادي الاسدي), a wadi whose course passes through the oasis along the base's western edge and then continues eastward, emptying into the Euphrates River at Khan al Baghdadi. This oasis is locally referred to as "Abraham's Well".

The ‘Ayn al Asad spring surfaces within the base and flows into the Wādī al Asadī.

Geologically, the base resides in the Al-Ḥammād sector of the Syrian Desert, comprised mostly of a rock and gravel steppe.

History[edit]

A 2005 haboob engulfs Al Asad
Al Asad Airbase in 2005

Qadisiyah Airbase[edit]

The base was originally named Qadisiyah Airbase (قاعدة القادسية الجوية), a reference to the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (c. 636). Qadisiyah AB was one of five new air bases built in Iraq as part of their Project "Super-Base", launched in 1975 as a response to the lessons learned during the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973.[2]

The base was built sometime between 1981[3] & 1987 by a consortium of Yugoslavian companies under contract to the government of Iraq.

Two Yugoslav government agencies led the project. The FDSP (Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement) acted as the project manager and Aeroengineering acted as the project engineer. Known as 'Project 202-B' and 'Project 1100', the companies involved in its construction included Granit,[4][5] Vranica d.d. Sarajevo,[3] I.L. Lavčević d.d. Split, and Unioninvest d.d. Sarajevo.[6]

The US$280,000,000 project at Qadisiyah AB included accommodation for 5,000 personnel and the necessary infrastructure including public facilities (mosques, outdoor and indoor Olympic swimming pool, football field, sports hall, cinema, library, elementary school, high school, hospital and clinic) and fortified military facilities (military airport, shelters for personnel and equipment, shelters for bombers and fighters and military barracks).[3] The hardened aircraft shelters built here and throughout Iraq by the Yugoslavs were nicknamed 'Yugos'. At the time they were considered state of the art but were rendered obsolete in 1991 after the development of the GBU-28 laser-guided bunker-buster bomb.

Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the base housed three units of the Iraqi Air Force, which flew MiG-25s and MiG-21s. It was abandoned shortly after the start of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It was initially known as Objective Webster,[7] and then eventually was renamed Al Asad Airbase, which means "The Lion" in Arabic.

Al Asad Airbase during the Iraq War[edit]

The base was initially secured during the Iraq War by the Australian Special Air Service Regiment and was turned over to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in May 2003.The 3rd ACR was relieved by the Marines of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in March 2004. Al Asad became the largest Coalition base in western Iraq and the western equivalent of Baghdad's Green Zone.

Al Asad was a major convoy hub, hosting hundreds of fuel and supply trucks every day. Huge shipments of fuel were commonly run along the dangerous routes coming out of Jordan and, despite insurgent attempts, a majority of these convoys arrived at their destinations untouched. A single convoy operation would sometimes last a couple days with trucks on the road for over 8 hours a day.

Air Force One visits Al Asad in 2007

Like other large bases in Iraq, Al Asad offered amenities including an indoor swimming pool, movie theater (which was a carbon copy of the Sustainer Theatre at Camp Anaconda), post office, Morale, Welfare and Recreation center, several gyms, Post Exchange, Burger King, Cinnabon, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Subway Restaurant, Combat Support Hospital, and a Green Beans Coffee Shop. The base is self-sufficient for producing drinking water, having both a reverse osmosis water purification plant and a bottling plant. Most of the housing on base are "cans" – shipping containers converted to, or manufactured as, living areas. Some of the original barracks still remain, however, and were used as well. Overflow tents were used when required, such as transition periods, which can nearly double the number of troops on the base. The base was a common destination for celebrities and politicians visiting American troops in Iraq, such as Chuck Norris and Toby Keith. While the towns and routes near Al Asad were as dangerous as anywhere else in Iraq, it is relatively remote and is easily accessible by air. The base would receive indirect fire from Iraqi insurgents which would cause little to no damage. In one case, a mortar round damaged the portable toilets placed outside one of the barracks. Indirect fire would also be commonly mistaken for controlled EOD explosions inside the base.

The controversial song Hadji Girl was recorded at Al Asad in 2005. On September 3, 2007, President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace visited Al Asad and spent Labor Day with the servicemembers deployed to the base.

As the Marines withdrew from Iraq, Al Asad remained one of the last American-occupied bases in Al Anbar. In 2009 and 2010, Marines with the 2nd MEF removed the majority of gear and personnel from the base.[8] The MEF concluded its operations at Al Asad in March 2010. The last of the civilian personnel were airlifted from Al Asad on December 16, 2011, and the base officially closed on December 31, 2011.

Current use[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ "Al Asad Airbase, Al Anbar, Iraq". Airforce-Technology.com. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  2. ^ Cooper, Tom (26 September 2003). "Iraqi Super-Bases (Samarah East AB section)". Arabian Peninsula & Persian Gulf Database. Air Combat Information Group. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Katalog - Lista referensi Vranica d.d. 2009. - Eng (PDF). Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Vranica d.d. Sarajevo. p. 4. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "History and Organization". Granit. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Granit company profile (PDF). Skopje, Macedonia: Granit. p. 5. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "History". Unioninvest. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Pike, John E. (26 September 2003). "Al Asad Airfield [Qadisiyah Airbase]". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Murray, Cpl Meg (December 12, 2009). "Deployed embark Marines master tricky logistical limbo in Iraq". Multi-National Force West. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 6 January 2010.