Camp Bastion

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Camp Bastion

Flag of the International Security Assistance Force.svg

Near Gereshk, Helmand Province in Afghanistan
Dusk falls over a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 6, 2013 130506-A-CL397-247.jpg
U.S. Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter in 2013
OAZI is located in Afghanistan
Shown within Afghanistan
Coordinates 31°51′24″N 064°13′15″E / 31.85667°N 64.22083°E / 31.85667; 64.22083Coordinates: 31°51′24″N 064°13′15″E / 31.85667°N 64.22083°E / 31.85667; 64.22083
Site information
Owner International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
Operator British Armed Forces
Website Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation - Bastion
Site history
Built 2006 (2006)
In use 2006-Present
Garrison information
RAF Group Captain Tony Innes, Commander Bastion and Commanding Officer 903 Expeditionary Air Wing.[1]
Airfield information
Identifiers IATA: OAZ, ICAO: OAZI,
Elevation: 855 metres (2,805 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
01/19 3,500 metres (11,483 ft) Concrete/Asphalt
Number Length and surface
01/19 200 metres (656 ft) Concrete
Garrison of 5,000–12,000 troops.[2] Up to 28,000 troops.[3]

Camp Bastion is the main British military base in Afghanistan. Accommodating 28,000 people, it is situated northwest of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, and exists to be the logistics hub for operations in Helmand.[4] It is the largest British overseas military camp built since the Second World War.[5]

Built in early 2006 by personnel from 39 Engineer Regiment Royal Engineers and various contracting firms, all under the supervision of 62 Works Group Royal Engineers, the camp is situated in a remote desert area, far from population centres. Four miles long by two miles wide, it has a busy airfield and a field hospital and originally had full accommodation for the 2000 men and women.

The base is home to a number of nations including the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Tonga.[6]

Bastion also adjoins Camp Leatherneck (US) (which also contains Camp Tombstone) and the Afghan National Army (ANA) Camp Shorabak.

In November 2006, Tony Blair visited Camp Bastion, and, while addressing a gathering of British troops, described it as an "extraordinary piece of desert ... where the fate of world security in the early 21st century is going to be decided".[7]

In May 2013 the BBC obtained documents showing that up to 85 Afghan nationals were being detained at Camp Bastion.[8] Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, has confirmed that the UK is holding "80 or 90 Afghan detainees" at the base.[9] The Ministry of Defence maintains the detention of the Afghans is legal.[9]


Camp Bastion was built in early 2006 by 39 Engineer Regiment from the Royal Engineers. The camp was specifically in a remote desert area far from population which allows clear vision to spot attackers and originally had full accommodation for the 2000 men and women.[10]

The base's name is derived from the company that provided the bomb-proof bags used to define the camps boundaries; Hesco Bastion. [11]

The first camp to be built inside Camp Bastion was Camp 251 which housed the construction force and they were housed in tents.[3]

The base is divided into a number of different sections (Bastions). Bastion 1 and 2 were the first sections with Bastion 2 containing Camp Barber (US) and Camp Viking (DK), Bastion 0 was added in around 2010 and houses the contractors and Bastion 3 is used for in-theatre training.

As of September 2014 it was reported that both Bastion 2 & 3 have been reverted to desert.[3]

According to the Royal Air Force, Camp Bastion includes Bastion Airfield, Bastion Garrison and Camp Leatherneck.[12]

During June 2011 a brand new air traffic control tower was opened.[13]

During August 2013 the Headquarters of Task Force Helmand moved from Lashkar Gah to Bastion.[14]

In February 2014, snow fell in Camp Bastion for the first time since the base was established, eight years earlier.[15]

By March 2014, the population of the camp had reduced to 4,000 UK service personnel, as preparations were well-underway for UK military withdrawal from Helmand.[16]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

The base has been attacked several times including on 14 September 2012, when two United States Marine Corps (USMC) service personnel were killed[17] and six USMC McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs were destroyed and two were "significantly damaged." Three refuelling stations were also destroyed, with six soft-skin aircraft hangars damaged. Of the 15 Taliban attackers, 14 were killed and 1 captured.[18][19]

Current use[edit]

Camp Bastion airfield and heliport handles 600 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft movements every day, operating combat, medical and logistics flights.[4] Its air traffic controllers are integral to the support of the UK's operations in southern Afghanistan and the Air Traffic Control Squadron at Camp Bastion is the first to recruit and train US Marines to UK air traffic control standards.[20]

In 2013, the British opened a training school for Afghan troops at Camp Bastion, as part of their exit from Afghanistan strategy.[21]

Operational units[edit]

Bastion Airfield

An ambulance waits to receive a casualty from a Chinook on the helipad.

British Armed Forces

United States Armed Forces

Bastion Garrison:

Newly arrived soldiers listen to a briefing in 2012

 United Kingdom

  • Crew Training School (for vehicles).
  • Joint Force Support (Afghanistan).[26]
  • Joint Force Medical Group.[27]
  • Military Working Dogs Squadron.[22]
  • Theatre Logistic Group.[3]

Multi national

  • Task Force Belleau Wood.
    •  UK - Bastion Force Protection Wing.[28]
    •  US -


An MRI machine is set up at the Role 3 Medical Facility

Camp Bastion's Hospital is operated by regular and reserve personnel of the British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force of the Joint Force Medical Group,[27] as well as medical assets from the US Army. Medical staff include Orthopaedic Surgeons, General Surgeons, Anaesthetists, Nurses and Medics. The hospital is the location to which wounded military personnel from the British, US and other ISAF forces in Helmand Province are evacuated from the battlefield for treatment, supported by US Army, Navy, and Air Force medics, or from which they are further evacuated to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Afghan nationals are also treated at the hospital in many circumstances including accidental injuries and road traffic collisions.


In September 2014 it was reported that the significantly reduced base would be handed over to the Afghan Government.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

Camp Bastion has been featured in several documentaries, often focusing on medical evacuations.

  • The Air Hospital (Channel 4) - Aired 25 March 2010.[29]
  • Frontline Medicine (BBC 2) - Aired 20 and 27 November 2011.[30]
  • Extraordinary Dogs (Documentary Channel).[31]
  • Prince Harry: Frontline Afghanistan (BBC3) - Aired 28 January 2013.[32]
  • Gary Barlow: Journey to Afghanistan (ITV) - Aired 23 December 2013.[33]
  • Top Gear (BBC2) - Aired 9 February 2014.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Change Of Command For CO 903 EAW At Camp Bastion". Royal Air Force (RAF). 4 February 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Airport record for Camp Bastion Airport at Retrieved 1-8-2013
  3. ^ a b c d e "How to Close Camp Bastion". Forces TV. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Camp Bastion doubles in size". Ministry of Defence. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Building Camp Bastion". Channel 4. 24 February 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2007. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Commander Bastion takes charge of UK's main Helmand base and its airfield". Ministry of Defence (MoD). 18 Oct 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Patrick Wintour (21 November 2006). "Bleak Camp Bastion - and a vision of roses and saffron". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 September 2007. 
  8. ^ Casciani, Dominic; Coleman, Clive (29 May 2013). "Afghans 'unlawfully held' by UK forces at Camp Bastion". London: BBC News. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Afghans 'Detained Illegally' At Camp Bastion, Lawyers Claim". The Huffington Post. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Raymond Whitaker (3 December 2006). "Camp Bastion: Welcome to Helmand". The Independent. Retrieved 25 September 2007. 
  11. ^ "Inside Camp Bastion". Guardian news. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "903 Expeditionary Air Wing". RAF. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "New control tower for Bastion Airfield". MoD. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "British headquarters in Afghanistan moves to Camp Bastion". BBC. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  15. ^ "It's the snow soldier! Troops in Afghanistan build snowman as snow falls at Camp Bastion for the first time in eight years". Daily Mail. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  16. ^ "Saying goodbye to Camp Bastion". BBC. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "US marines killed in Afghan attack on Camp Bastion". British Broadcasting Corporation. 15 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "ISAF provides additional details on Camp Bastion attack". International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). 16 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  19. ^ Also, this article in the Guardian, April 2014
  20. ^ "IN PICTURES: New runway takes shape at Camp Bastion". Ministry of Defence. 27 July 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  21. ^ "Afghan Army trained by British troops". The Daily Star (Manchester, UK). 12 October 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Princess Anne flies into Camp Bastion to boost morale among troops in run-up to Christmas". Daily Mail. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  23. ^ "903 Expeditionary Air Wing". Royal Air Force (RAF). Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "903 EAW 5(AC) Sqn - ASTOR". RAF. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  25. ^ "Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 transfers authority to MWSS-274 as last wing support unit in Afghanistan". DVIDS. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  26. ^ "Handover of UK headquarters team in Afghanistan". MoD. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  27. ^ a b "RAF Chinooks continue operations In Afghanistan - Tactical and Strategic Aeromedical Evacuation". Boeing. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  28. ^ "RAF protecting Camp Bastion". Ministry of Defence. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  29. ^ "The Air Hospital". Channel 4. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  30. ^ "TV programme showcases military medics' work in Helmand". Ministry of Defence. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  31. ^ "Extraordinary Dogs". Documentary Channel. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  32. ^ "Prince Harry: Frontline Afghanistan". BBC Three. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  33. ^ "Gary Barlow: Journey To Afghanistan". 23 December 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  34. ^ "What’s in store this week on Top Gear?". BBC - Top Gear. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 

External links[edit]