Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base
Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait is a Kuwait air force installation with part designated for operations by the US Air Force and its allies. A camp sitting 75 miles south of the Iraqi border, Al Jaber's primary role is supporting Joint Task Force - Southwest Asia, which monitors a no-fly zone mission dubbed Operation Southern Watch. Active-duty, Guard and Reserve A-10 and F-16 fighter units, along with support individuals, rotate in and out, ensuring Iraqi aircraft don't fly below the 32nd parallel. At the Al Jaber AFB the 332 ELS Commander and 10 personnel are on a one-year tour; all others (1190 personnel) rotate every 90 days.
Attacks on the Office of the Program Manager/Saudi Arabia National Guard (OPM/SANG) in November 1995 and on the Khobar Towers living compound in June 1996 forever changed the way in which the Armed Forces will regard terrorism in the Persian Gulf. Security precautions were taken in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait as US personnel moved from the Sahara Residency in downtown Abu Dhabi onto Al Dhafra air base outside the city and from the international airport at Kuwait City onto Ahmed Al Jabber air base in the desert.
The 332nd Air Expeditionary Group, with 1,400 US troops, was activated in November 1998, replacing the 4406th Operations Group (Provisional) at first only in name. But since then, its mission has evolved and grown to reflect the EAF concept of a consolidated force in a forward location. That package includes F-15E's or Block 40 F-16s, the A-10s and the F-16CJs. That mix of aircraft, including HH-60 rescue helicopters, gives the 332nd the ability to conduct any Operation Southern Watch mission.
Patriot missile launchers assigned to the US Army's 31st Air Defense Artillery, Fort Bliss, Texas, lined up for a convoy from Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, on June 7, 1998. The 31st Air Defense Artillery, which provided air defense to the base, had received orders to redeploy after several months of supporting Operation Southern Watch.
Guard aircraft had been flying Operation Southern Watch sorties since 1995 to reduce the ops tempo on their active duty counterparts. Guard A-10s from Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland pulled a 90-day rotation at Al Jaber in 1999.
"The Jab" was a base that never sleeps. At any hour of day or night, you could sit on the wooden veranda of the Camel's Hump - a mini-rec center maintained by the constant rotation of fighter squadron enlisted people - and watch the hodgepodge of pedestrian traffic on Main Street. Pilots in beige flightsuits pop in and out of the fighter squadron headquarters across the street. Security forces, armed and armored for their 12-hour shifts, check in at the cops' complex of buildings nearby. People in shorts and T-shirts flow through the door of "The Body Shop," the compound's 24-hour fitness center next door. And in the near distance, fighter aircraft rise above the buildings, en route to Iraq on Southern Watch missions.
Al Jaber was also a base under perpetual construction. The whine and roar of jet engines was a backdrop to the daytime rumble of heavy equipment and the staccato beat of hammers on nails. The upgrades to security, operations facilities and creature comforts are constant. The base opened Coalition Village II, a literal apartment complex with 25 four-person suites and an in-ground pool. In addition to a fully furnished kitchen and living room, each apartment featured four bedrooms with private bathrooms. Its new furniture looks like it came from a department store showroom, rather than the plain decor of most military facilities. While just a fraction of the base's population lived in the new complex, every 120-day deployee, and many people on shorter stays, enjoy two above-ground pools, a busy Planet Jaber rec center and other off-duty entertainment like a miniature golf course. And shortly after their arrival, they move into the dormitories of Coalition Village I.
The Air Force doesn't want another Khobar Towers. The June 1996 terrorist bombing that killed 19 airmen forced the service to look hard at security in Southwest Asia. The result of that hard look is that Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base is one hard target. The Air Force uses every means available, from physical barriers to high-tech sensors and infrared cameras, to keep people deployed to Al Jaber safe. And an alert and overwhelming security force subjects even the most innocuous happenings to stern scrutiny. Al Jaber's stringent measures surprise even newly deployed security forces troops.
Pilot error was cited as the cause of a 9th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130E aircraft accident 10 December 1999 at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait that killed three airmen and injured seven. The pilot and copilot became spatially disoriented, leading to their failure to recognize their landing picture with reference to the runway and subsequently failing to identify a normal visual descent point. When the aircraft attempted to return to Ahmed Al Jaber AB, it impacted the ground approximately 2,895 feet short and about 40 feet left of the runway centerline. After regaining altitude, the crew declared an emergency and diverted to Kuwait City International Airport. While the Kuwait City International Airport runway was being prepared, the damaged aircraft flew over the Persian Gulf to jettison about 3,000 gallons of fuel. The emergency landing at Kuwait City International Airport occurred about 48 minutes after the initial impact near Ahmed Al Jaber AB.
The 9th Intelligence Squadron (Deployed) from Beale AFB, Calif., moved in 12 October 2000 and was operational two days later, much to the benefit of the fighter community here. The intel trailers house photo-processing equipment to develop pictures taken by reconnaissance aircraft, according to Capt. Scott Strohecker, the deployed unit's commander. Moving the 9th Intelligence Squadron folks to the region speeds the process significantly. It shortens the time lines; otherwise the film would have to go back to the states. After film is processed, sharp-eyed intel people "exploit" the images and report their findings back to higher headquarters. The faster turnaround makes it easier for commanders to assign missions to units in the region. On the unit's first "real-world" deployment since Desert Storm, being so close to the action is a big motivator for the deployed team.
Elements from the 1/184 Infantry (SecFor), 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard, deployed in the second half of 2001 to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base to provide security to the base's Patriot site.
The Air Force Contract Augmentation Program (AFCAP) is a cost-plus award fee contract designed to provide on-call capability in a wide range of contingency civil engineer and services support (except crash/fire rescue, explosive ordnance disposal, mortuary affairs and field exchanges). The current AFCAP contractor is Readiness Management Support L.C. a subsidiary of Johnson Controls. The RMS contract team is actively involved in two 12-month task orders that provide 35 power generator mechanics and 16 engineers at four locations in Southwest Asia. The four locations include Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Ali Al Salem AB, Kuwait; Al Jaber AB, Kuwait; and Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates. Each location has a wide variety of mobility and commercial generators up to and including 1000KW. The support equates to "backfilling" 140 blue-suiter rotations and reduces the OPSTEMPO requirements on active duty AF power production specialists.
DynCorp Technical Services provides support to the Kuwait Air Force the specified volume of in-country technical and maintenance support (51 task billets) to include Maintenance Services which includes Organizational and Intermediate Level Maintenance, and Kuwait Air Force Supply Support and Indirect Support efforts. DynCorp is one of the largest service contractors to the U.S. government.
Providing services to the thousands of military members stationed at or passing through Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait presented a daunting task during the early months of 2003. With Operation Enduring Freedom continuing and Operation Iraqi Freedom about to begin, the base that was set up to support 2,000 military personnel suddenly found itself supporting more than 7,000 personnel. This base that "never sleeps" was living up to its reputation. According to Malone, the services people procured more than five million pounds of food and served more than a million meals, averaging some 15,000 meals a day during an 80-day period. They also handled the fitness and recreation programs for the base, oversaw $30,000 in resale operations and maintained 175 lodging facilities during their stint.
According to USA Today on October 22, 2003 the US Ambassador to Kuwait, Richard Jones, announced that the United States was reducing its presence at Al Jaber with the intent of fully reducing its forces at that location. Aircraft normally at Al Jaber have departed for other locations.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|