Joint Base Balad

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Joint Base Balad
Balad air base tower.jpg
Airmen control aircraft flying into and out of Balad Air Base, Iraq, as a C-17 Globemaster passes by
IATA: OR9ICAO: ORBD
Summary
Airport type Military
Operator United States Air Force
Location Balad, Iraq
Elevation AMSL 161 ft / 49 m
Coordinates 33°56′00″N 044°22′00″E / 33.93333°N 44.36667°E / 33.93333; 44.36667Coordinates: 33°56′00″N 044°22′00″E / 33.93333°N 44.36667°E / 33.93333; 44.36667
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
14/32 11,490 3,503 Concrete
12/30 11,495 3,504 Concrete

Joint Base Balad,[1] formerly Balad Air Base and Logistics Support Area Anaconda, or simply LSA Anaconda - formerly known as Al-Bakr Air Base (Arabic: قاعدة البكر الجوية‎)[citation needed] and known in popular media as Camp Anaconda - was one of the largest United States military bases in Iraq during the Iraq War. It was formerly the largest Iraqi Air Force base during the Saddam Hussein era.

The Army's 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the Air Force's 332d Air Expeditionary Wing were headquartered at JBB. It was decided that the facility share one name, even though for many reasons and for its many occupants, it had differing names. Until mid-2008 the US Army had been in charge of the base but, when the base went "Joint" the US Air Force took overall control. Balad was the central logistical hub for forces in Iraq. Camp Anaconda has also been more colloquially-termed "Life Support Area Anaconda"[2] or the "Big Snake". Joint Base Balad was also used extensively by aircraft of the Royal Air Force, which have operated a wide range of types (rotary and fixed wing) from the base, in support of ongoing missions in the country.

As American forces left Iraq, Joint Base Balad was returned to the Iraqi Air Force in December 2011.[3]

History[edit]

Joint Base Balad was formerly known as al-Bakr AB, named in honor of Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, the president of Iraq from 1968-79. It was considered by many in the Iraqi military to be the most important airfield of the Iraqi Air Force. During most of the 1980s, it operated with at least a brigade level force, with two squadrons of MiG-23 fighters. al-Bakr AB was especially well known for the large number of hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) built by the Yugoslavs during the Iran-Iraq War in the mid-1980s. It had four hardened areas—one each on either end of the main runways—with approximately 30 individual aircraft shelters.

The base came under attack by ISIS militants in late June 2014, with the insurgents launching mortar attacks and reportedly surrounding the base of three sides.[4]

Location[edit]

The Sustainer Theater at Joint Base Balad where US movies played.

Located near Balad, Iraq in the Sunni Triangle 40 miles (64 km) north of Baghdad, it housed 28,000 military personnel and 8,000 civilian contractors.[citation needed] Like most large bases in Iraq, LSA Anaconda offered amenities, circa 2006 and later, including a base movie theater, (Sustainer Theater) two base PX's, fast food courts including Popeyes, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell (2007), Burger King, Green Beans Coffee, a Turkish Cafe with Turkish food prepared by Turks, an Iraqi Bazaar which sold bootleg movies, Cuban cigars, and fake name brand watches, multiple gyms, dance lessons, an olympic size swimming pool, and an indoor swimming pool. The base was a common destination for celebrities and politicians visiting US troops in Iraq including Carrie Underwood in December 2006 and Gary Sinise who went out of his way to greet the troops at the PX.

Conditions[edit]

Starting in 2003, several mortar rounds and rockets were fired per day,[5] usually hitting the empty space between the runways, although there were isolated injuries and fatalities. By mid-2006, this rate had dropped about 40%.[6] Due to these attacks, the soldiers and airmen refer to the base as "Mortaritaville", though this name is shared with other bases in Iraq.

Burn pit[edit]

Joint Base Balad had a burn pit operation as late as the summer of 2008 burning 147 tons of waste per day when the Army Times published a major story about it and about health concerns. Respiratory difficulties and headaches were reported.[7]

Hospital[edit]

Joint base Balad was also home to the Air Force Theater Hospital, a Level I trauma center which boasts a 98% survival rate for wounded Americans and Iraqis alike.[8] This Trauma Center was supported by the 332nd Civil Engineer Squadron's Power Production Shop; who also boasts a 99% uninterruptable prime-power grid.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Renamed U.S. military base in Iraq reflects joint status
  2. ^ Carter, Phillip (October 18, 2006). "The Thin Green Line". Slate.com. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  3. ^ "Iraqi generals visit to better understand base transition", 4 Feb 2011. http://www.balad.afcent.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123240846
  4. ^ Lake, Eli; Josh Rogin (25 June 2014). "ISIS Tries to Grab Its Own Air Force". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Letters to the editor for Wednesday, October". Stars and Stripes. October 27, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  6. ^ Powell, Anita (July 22, 2006). "Attacks on the decrease at LSA Anaconda, aka 'Mortaritaville'". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  7. ^ "Burn pit at Balad raises health concerns: Troops say chemicals and medical waste burned at base are making them sick, but officials deny risk" article by Kelly Kennedy in Army Times Oct 29, 2008, accessed August 7, 2010
  8. ^ Mason, Michael (March 2007). "Dead Men Walking". Discover. 
  9. ^ Twenty-six bases are in the process of being re-aligned into twelve joint bases, with each joint base's installation support being led by the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force. See Joint Base Background (part 4 of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam webpage) (on Hickam AFB's official website). Retrieved 2010-06-18. To access other parts of the webpage, go to the bottom of the right-hand scroll bar and click on the down arrow (or the "page-down" double arrow). To go to earlier parts of the webpage, click on the up arrow (or the "page-up" double arrow). See Hickam Air Force Base#Internet webpage, for a partial list of the webpage parts that discuss joint basing and BRAC.

External links[edit]