Al Asad Airbase

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Ayn al-Asad Airbase
Al Asad Air Base Patch 2007.jpg
IATA: noneICAO: ORAALID: MAA
Summary
Airport type Military: Airbase
Operator United States Air Force (2003-2011)
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
Location of Al-Asad Air Base, Iraq

Ayn al-Asad Airbase (ICAO: ORAA) is a Iraqi Armed Forces and United States armed forces base, located in the largely Sunni western Province of Iraq Al Anbar.

It was the second largest US military airbase in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Until January 2010, it was the home of the II Marine Expeditionary Force/Multi-National Force West. 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). Due to numerous amenities aboard the base, service members referred to it as "Camp Cup Cake."[2]

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, composed 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.[3]

The base was built sometime between 1981[4] & 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,[5][6] Vranica d.d. Sarajevo,[4] I.L. Lavčević d.d. Split, and Unioninvest d.d. Sarajevo.[7]

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).[4] 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.[citation needed]

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,[8] and then eventually was renamed Al Asad Airbase, which means "The Lion" in Arabic.

Iraq War 2003-11[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 (3rd ACR) 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 U.S. 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 often received indirect fire from Iraqi insurgents which usually caused little to no damage, though there were occasional casualties. [1]

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.[9] 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.

Intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[edit]

2014–2015 Ayn al-Assad base attacks
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve and
the Global War on Terrorism
Ayn al-Asad Base is located in Iraq
Ayn al-Asad Base
Ayn al-Asad Base
Ayn al-Asad Base (Iraq)
Date October 2014–present
Location Iraq
Status

Ongoing

  • Frequent attacks[10]
Belligerents
Iraq Republic of Iraq
 United States of America
 Denmark
 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Units involved

Iraqi Army

Flag of the United States Marine Corps.svg U.S. Marine Corps[11]

Hæren.png Royal Danish Army

ISIL Armed Forces

  • Wilayat Anbar
Strength

Iraqi Army:

  • 9,000

United States United States:

Denmark Denmark:

Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

When Marines with Special Purpose - Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, Central Command returned in September 2014, Commanding Officer Colonel Jason Bohm said it was “like a scene out of the Twilight Zone. Our headquarters was a former Marine air logistics squadron headquarters. There were items that were just left there when we picked up and left. Literally newspapers with the date the last person that was in that office (departed are) still there, except there’s a lot of dust on it now.”[14]

In late October 2014, the airbase and surrounding region came under repeated attack by Islamic State militants.[15][16] 50 U.S. advisers were sent to the base to which is located is the ISIL stronghold. Also to conduct a site survey for U.S. advisers can use the installation to support the Iraqi military, said Navy Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman. It now hosts 320 advisers.

During the early morning hours of 14 December 2014, U.S. Marines hosted there allegedly clashed with ISIL alongside the Iraqi Army and Tribal Forces near Ein al-Asad base, west of Anbar, in an attempt to repel them from the base of which includes about 100 U.S. advisers in it at the time, when ISIL attempted to overrun the base. According to a field commander of the Iraqi Army in Anbar province, said that "the U.S. force equipped with light and medium weapons, supported by F-18, was able to inflict casualties against fighters of ISIL organization, and forced them to retreat from the al-Dolab area, which lies 10 kilometers from Ain al-Assad base." Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, a prominent tribal leader in the region, added that "U.S. forces intervened because of ISIL started to come near the base, which they are stationed in so out of self-defense," he responded, welcoming the U.S. intervention, and saying "which I hope will not be the last."[17][18][19][20][21] This was said to be the first encounter between the United States and the Islamic State, in four years. However, this claim has been stated to be "false" by The Pentagon.[22][23] The airbase and surrounding region came under repeated attack by Islamic State militants in October 2014.[15][16]

An Iraqi squad leader assigns a soldier his area of responsibility during defense training aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Feb. 8, 2015. The training gave the soldiers a greater understanding of basic ambush and defense maneuvers.

On January 5, 2015 The Pentagon acknowledged that ISIL has been ineffectively mortaring the base.[24]

On February 6–7, U.S. Marines and Danish soldiers with Task Force Al Asad taught Iraqi soldiers basic defense and ambush techniques.[25]

In February, Al Asad made news when ISIL took control [26] over most of the nearby town of al-Baghdadi and began what a Defense Department spokeswoman called "ineffective indirect fire" [27] against Al Asad base. Later, according to CBS News, "Eight suicide bombers managed [on February 13] to get onto [Al Asad] ... but were killed by an ISF counter attack almost immediately." Further, CBS news reported that "ISIL [had] been regularly shelling Ain al-Assad for the past couple days, but there have been no reports of damage from the shelling or the attempted bombing on Friday." [28]

In early March, Iraqi forces cleared out al-Baghdadi from ISIL.[12]

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. ^ http://breakingdefense.com/2015/05/past-magtf-commander-details-isil-air-strikes-notes-1st-marines-could-clear-iraq/
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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 (PDF) on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "History and Organization". Granit. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Granit company profile" (PDF). Skopje, Macedonia: Granit. p. 5. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "History". Unioninvest. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Pike, John E. (26 September 2003). "Al Asad Airfield [Qadisiyah Airbase]". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2015/01/05/us-troops-under-mortar-fire-in-iraq/21309615/
  11. ^ a b http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/01/05/isis-fires-mortars-near-marines-deployed-to-train-iraq-forces.html
  12. ^ a b c http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2015/03/06/is-fighters-pushed-out-al-baghdadi/24512249/
  13. ^ http://www2.forsvaret.dk/viden-om/udland/IRAK/Pages/defaultt.aspx
  14. ^ http://breakingdefense.com/2015/05/past-magtf-commander-details-isil-air-strikes-notes-1st-marines-could-clear-iraq/
  15. ^ a b http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/10/islamic_state_seizes.php
  16. ^ a b http://www.ninanews.com/english/News_Details.asp?ar95_VQ=HHDMHM
  17. ^ "First ground clash between ISIS and US forces in Iraq". Shafaq News. 16 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  18. ^ "US servicemen in first ground battle with ISIS – Kurdish media". Russia Today. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "Reports of U.S. Ground Fighters Emerge as ISIS Gains in Iraq". The Fiscal Times. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "American troops battle ISIS for first time as they see off attempted attack by militants on Iraqi base". Daily Mail. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "U.S. Ground Troops Fighting Isis In Iraq". Fox News Radio. 18 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  22. ^ http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2014/12/18/pentagon-no-indication-u-s-troops-engaged-in-ground-combat-with-isis-in-iraq/
  23. ^ http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/hundreds-of-us-troops-now-deployed-in-iraq-s-anbar-province-1.319902
  24. ^ http://time.com/3654879/al-asad-iraq-attacks-isis/
  25. ^ http://www.marines.mil/News/NewsDisplay/tabid/3258/Article/570966/dig-in-iraqi-soldiers-conduct-defense-ambush-training.aspx
  26. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/12/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-anbar-idUSKBN0LG23120150212
  27. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/02/12/isis-on-doorstep-fighters-reportedly-seize-iraqi-town-near-base-holding-us/
  28. ^ http://www.cbsnews.com/news/suicide-bombers-iraq-ain-al-assad-airbase-us-marines-near-isis/