By early 2015 Marines from a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force were training units with the Iraqi Army's 7th Division at Al Asad air base in western Iraq, and a further 170 US soldiers from the Army's 1st Infantry Division were training another four Iraqi Army battalions near Taji, just northwest of Baghdad.
At that time, the US was currently establishing two other sites to train a total of nine Iraqi and three Kurdish battalions in Irbil in the Kurdish-controlled north, and the Besmaya Combat Training Center, just south of Baghdad.
A new base will be constructed at the Iraqi military base, Taqaddum. US officials hope that the facility’s location in eastern Anbar will provide troops with a unique ability to reach out to Sunni tribes in the area, potentially recruiting them in the Shiite-majority Iraqi Army. At Taqqadum, US forces will advise the 8th Iraqi army division on "how best to deploy their troops" and improve logistics and intelligence.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, said June 11, 2015 that the United States was considering creating more train-and-advise hubs for Iraqi troops, even as it prepared to open a new base in Anbar province with 450 military personnel.
After the end of major combat operations in Iraq and the beginning of the occupation and reconstruction, the US military hunkered down, moving into the isolated compounds and bases that Saddam Hussein's security forces used to protect themselves from internal enemies. Thus, US forces were most readily attacked when they left those bases to go out on patrol or in convoys.
A 20 April 2003 report in The New York Times asserted that "the U.S. is planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project American influence into the heart of the unsettled region." The report, citing anonymous sources, referred to one base at Baghdad's international airport, another near Al-Nasiriyah in the south (presumably meaning Tallil AB), the third at the H-1 airstrip in the western desert, and the fourth at Bashur AB in the north. There were several statements at that time about the possible duration of the US military presence in Iraq. Mr. Richard Perle mentioned 6 months, while Ahmad Chalabi had said 2 years.
American officials tried to make the point that the US presence in Iraq would not be a permanent or long-term one. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a 21 April 2003 press conference said that any suggestion that the United States was planning a permanent military presence in Iraq was "inaccurate and unfortunate." Rumsfeld said "I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting. ... The likelihood of it seems to me to be so low that it does not surprise me that it's never been discussed in my presence, to my knowledge. Why do I say it's low? Well, we've got all kinds of options and opportunities in that part of the world to locate forces, it's not like we need a new place. We have plenty of friends and plenty of ability to work with them and have locations for things that help to contribute to stability in the region. ... Rumsfeld: I think there is a down side. I think any impression that is left, which that article left, that the United States plans some sort of a permanent presence in that country, I think is a signal to the people of that country that's inaccurate and unfortunate, because we don't plan to function as an occupier, we don't plan to prescribe to any new government how we ought to be arranged in their country."
By mid-2003, Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) had established tactical field exchanges in Iraq. The Talil field exchange, which opened on 5 April 2003 inside a gymnasium on the former Iraqi air base near Nasiriyah, was one of several shops the Army and Air Force Exchange Service set up in Iraq. Others were in Umm Qsar, Baghdad International Airport and Camp Cedar, a convoy pit stop near Talil. More were planned. AAFES shipments from Kuwait were headed to V Corps' camp in Baghdad and to Balad, a city north of Baghdad. Merchandise slated for the projected military operation in Turkey would move to Mosul for troops in northern Iraq. Troops noticed when AAFES opened a field exchange and it became the center of attention. In Iraq, AAFES could not stock enough portable DVD players, which went for $399. In Baghdad alone, 250 were sold on an average day. Compact discs and magazines were also big sellers. Cans of soda did not last long in Baghdad. In response, the military had approved a local Pepsi distributor in Kuwait to supply AAFES with its products. On 7 May 2003, the field exchange at Baghdad International Airport sold 5,400 cases of soft drinks, an average day's sales for that camp. By mid-May 2003 soldiers saw specialty items exclusive to operations in Iraq. Commemorative T-shirts, key rings, coins and cups are among the items being flown in. Local vendors offered regional trinkets and stuffed camels. Despite the brisk sales, AAFES expected to lose money on contingency operations because costs to ship goods to the front lines eats up all the profits.
On 13 June 2003, the Defense Department signed a $200 million contract with the Kellogg Brown Root (KBR) subsidiary of Halliburton to build barracks for 100,000 troops in Iraq at as many as 20 locations. According to the initial exclusive report in the trade journal Inside the Army, the contract included "the set-up and operation of all housing and logistics to sustain task force personnel." The barracks were known as a "SEAhut," an abbreviation for "South East Asia huts," since they were similar to the quarters that were built for US troops in Vietnam. Halliburton had also constructed these facilities in Kosovo and Bosnia, and the designation had been changed to "SWAhut," for "South West Asia." This effort was undertaken through a task order under the long-term contract called the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP).
Expeditionary structures were those structures intended to be inhabited for no more than 1 year after they were erected. This group of structures typically included tents, Small and Medium Shelter Systems, Expandable Shelter Containers (ESC), ISO and CONEX containers, and General Purpose (GP) Medium tents and GP Large tents, etc. Temporary structures were those structures that were erected with an expected occupancy of 3 years or less. This group of structures typically included wood frame and rigid wall construction, and such things as Southeast Asia (SEA) Huts, hardback tents, ISO and CONEX containers, pre-engineered buildings, trailers, stress tensioned shelters, Expandable Shelter Containers (ESC), and Aircraft Hangars (ACH).
In late 2003, the 82nd Airborne Division's area of operations in Iraq was about the size of Wyoming and stretches west from the outskirts of Baghdad to the Syrian, Jordanian, and Saudi Arabian borders. The Division was composed of a brigade of paratroopers and several other units that had been attached. Those units included mechanized infantry from the 1st Infantry Division and tanks and armored vehicles from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Within the Division's area was part of the Sunni triangle, a collection of towns that included Fallujah. The towns had been hotspots of resistance in the guerilla war against coalition forces. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division's facilities included FOB St. Mere (3rd Brigade headquarters), FOB Volturno (1-505th Infantry), FOB St. Michael (3-505th Infantry), FOB Mercury (1-504th Infantry), and FOB Chosin (1-32nd Armor).
In memory of its fallen troopers, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment renamed its forward operating bases after them. Since deploying to the desert in late March of 2003, the Regiment lost, to enemy or accident, 21 soldiers. Sixteen had come from the Fort Carson, Colorado area and 5 had been from other units that had been, or still were, attached to the Regiment. Approved by Combined Joint Task Force-7 and effective as of 16 October 2003, 6 forward operating bases had taken new names. There were plans to continue to memorialize the Regiment's fallen heroes in the future. The FOB were with honor labeled: FOB Broomhead, FOB Byers, FOB Givens, FOB Lathem, FOB Miller, and FOB Quinn. Sergeant Thomas F. Broomhead was killed 27 May 2003 by enemy fire while conducting checkpoint operations. Captain Joshua T. Byers, Commander of F/2/3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, was killed 17 July 2003 by an improvised explosive device during a convoy. Fort Carson had also renamed a street for Captain Byers. Private First Class Jesse A. Givens drowned on 1 May 2003 when the tank in which was driving slid into a water-filled canal. Staff Sergeant William T. Latham died on 18 June 2003 of injuries sustained while conducting a raid on a suspected arms market in Fallujah, Iraq. Staff Sergeant Frederick L. Miller died of wounds on 20 September 2003 after an improvised explosive device struck his Bradley Fighting Vehicle during a convoy operation. Staff Sergeant Michael B. Quinn died of wounds sustained during a firefight while conducting checkpoint operations on 27 May 2003.
As of early 2004, US occupation forces appeared to be deployed at approximately 50 locations in Iraq. An exact tally was impossible, since not all operating locations had been publicly reported, and some reported operating locations could have become inactive. The tally was also complicated by the multiplication of names that had been applied to a specific locations, and the existence of multiple place names for contiguous locations. This was particularly notable at Baghdad International Airport and the contiguous palace facilities.
The US Army's top general said on 28 January 2004 that he was making plans based on the possibility that the Army would be required to keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq through 2006. General Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee of the United States that "for planning purposes" he had ordered his staff to consider how the Army would replace the force that was now rotating into Iraq with another force of similar size in 2005, and again in 2006.
On 23 March 2004 it was reported that "U.S. engineers are focusing on constructing 14 "enduring bases," long-term encampments for the thousands of American troops expected to serve in Iraq for at least two years.... The number of U.S. military personnel in Iraq, between 105,000 and 110,000, is expected to remain unchanged through 2006... the US plans to operate from former Iraqi bases in Baghdad, Mosul, Taji, Balad, Kirkuk and in areas near Nasiriyah, near Tikrit, near Fallujah and between Irbil and Kirkuk... enhance airfields in Baghdad and Mosul..."
By late March 2004, it was apparent that the US military was systematically renaming many of the existing Camps and Forward Operating Bases as new units deployed to replace units that had served their time in Iraq. Camp Paliwoda, formerly known as FOB Eagle, was renamed in memory of Captain Eric Paliwoda, who died on 2 January 2004 when an enemy mortar round scored a direct hit on his room.
By October 2004, it was reported that the US Army, in a move to take a friendlier face, had renamed all 17 of its facilities in and around the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and given them more noble sounding name with, as well, Arabic names to go along. The majority of the original base names were taken from Army unit nicknames, such as Bulldog and Headhunter. Three were named for American soldiers killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom I. The new base names were intended to reinforce the idea that these were not US bases and that the land belonged to the Iraqis. It was also to reinforce that the legacy left by this operation should be one of Iraqi services and not the US spirit. The new names were posted in English and Arabic at the entrance of each base.
|Facilities Renamed in 2004|
|Old Name||New Name (Arabic)||New Name (English)|
|Greywolf||Al-Tawheed Al-Awal||Union I|
|Outlaw||Al-Hurya Al-Thani||Freedom II|
|Trojan Horse||Al-Tawheed Al-Thalith||Union III|
|Warhorse||Al-Hurya Al-Awal||Freedom I|
|Warrior||Al-Tawheed Al-Thani||Union II|
In January 2005 it was reported that the Pentagon was building a permanent military communications system in Iraq. The new Central Iraq Microwave System, was to consist of up to 12 communications towers throughout Iraq, along with fiber-optic cables connecting Camp Victory to other coalition bases in the country.
By May 2005, the Washington Post reported that plans called for consolidating American troops in Iraq into 4 large air bases: Tallil in the south, Al Asad in the west, Balad in the center and either Irbil or Qayyarah in the north. Eventually, US units would be concentrated at these 4 fortified strategic hubs, from which they could provide logistical support and emergency combat assistance. Each base would support a brigade combat team, along with aviation and other support personnel.
Initially referred to as "enduring bases" in 2004, these 4 bases were redesignated as "Contingency Operating Bases" (COB) in February 2005. The consolidation plan entailed construction of long-lasting facilities, such as barracks and offices built of concrete blocks, rather than the metal trailers and buildings that were found at the larger US bases. The buildings were designed to withstand direct mortar strikes. Initial funding was provided in the $82 billion supplemental appropriations bill approved by Congress in May 2005. The longer term plan for US Central Command at the time called for "strategic overwatch" from bases in Kuwait.
As of mid-May 2005, it was reported that US forces occupied a total of 106 bases. These ranged in size from the massive Camp Victory complex near the Baghdad airport, to small outposts with as few as 500 soldiers. The US also operated 4 detention facilities and several other convoy support centers. In the first 5 months of 2005, US forces had turned over 13 small facilities in Baghdad to Iraqi military or police units.
As of May 2005 plans called for turning over three palaces -- two in Tikrit and one in Mosul -- by the end of 2005, with others to follow later on. In August 2004 prepartions had begun for vacating palaces in Mosul, Tikrit, Ramadi, Basra and Baghdad starting in March 2005. The plan had been put on hold in November 2004, given the cost of setting up replacement facilities.
The USF-I staff managed base closures and returns to the GoI in conjunction with the Receivership Secretariat, established and approved by the SA Joint Subcommittee for Agreed Facilities and Areas. The Receivership Secretariat coordinated with USF-I on all base transfers, returns, and closures and was the single point of contact for transferring all personal and real property at the time of closure. Between January 2008 and June 2010, a total of 369 bases or facilities had been closed or returned. As of May 31, 2010, 126 active bases remained in Iraq. From March 2010 to May 2010, U.S. Forces closed or returned 99 bases.
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