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Iraq Facilities

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 had been several statements at that time about the possible duration of the US military presence in Iraq. Mr. Richard Perle mentioned six months; Ahmad Chalabi, two years.

American officials have tried to make the point that the US presence in Iraq will 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 is planning a permanent military presence in Iraq is "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."

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 May 2005 the Washington Post reported that plans called for consolidating American troops in Iraq into four 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 four 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 four bases were redesignated as "Contingency Operating Bases" in February 2005. The consolidation plan entails construction of long-lasting facilities, such as barracks and offices built of concrete blocks, rather than the metal trailers and buildings that are found at the larger US bases. The buildings are 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 calls 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 operates four detention facilities and several other convoy support centers. In the first five months of 2005, US forces had turned over 13 small facilities in Baghdad to Iraqi military or police units.

In August 2004 prepartions began for vacating palaces in Mosul, Tikrit, Ramadi, Basra and Baghdad starting in March 2005. But the plan was put on hold in November 2004, given the cost of setting up replacement facilities. 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.

Background

The US military has 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 are most readily attacked when they leave those bases to go out on patrol or in convoys.

By mid-2003 Army and Air Force Exchange Service [AAFES] had established tactical field exchanges in Iraq. The Talil field exchange, which opened April 5 inside a gymnasium on the former Iraqi air base near Nasiriyah, is one of several shops the Army and Air Force Exchange Service has set up recently in Iraq. Others are in Umm Qsar, Baghdad International Airport and Camp Cedar, a convoy pit stop near Talil. More are planned. AAFES shipments from Kuwait are headed to V Corps' camp in Baghdad and to Balad, a city north of Baghdad. Merchandise slated for the projected military operation in Turkey will move to Mosul for troops in northern Iraq. Troops notice when AAFES opens a field exchange. AAFES is the center of attention. Troops drop what they're doing. In Iraq, AAFES can't stock enough portable DVD players, which go for $399. In Baghdad alone, 250 are sold on an average day. Compact discs and magazines are also big sellers. Cans of soda also don't last long in Baghdad. The military recently approved a local Pepsi distributor in Kuwait to supply AAFES with its products - good news for Mountain Dew fanatics. On May 7, 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, Hatcher said. Commemorative T-shirts, key rings, coins and cups are among the items being flown in. Local vendors will offer regional trinkets and stuffed camels. Despite the brisk sales, AAFES expects 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 twenty locations. According to the initial exclusive report in the trade journal Inside the Army, the contract includes "the set-up and operation of all housing and logistics to sustain task force personnel." The barracks are known as a "SEAhut," an abbreviation for "South East Asia huts," since they are similar to the quarters that were built for US troops in Vietnam. Halliburton has also constructed these facilities in Kosovo and Bosnia, and the designation has recently 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 are those structures intended to be inhabited for no more than 1 year after they are erected. This group of structures typically include 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 are those structures that are erected with an expected occupancy of 3 years or less. This group of structures typically includes 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 is composed of a brigade of paratroopers and several other units that have been attached. Those units include mechanized infantry from the 1st Infantry Division and tanks and armored vehicles from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Within the division's area is part of the Sunni triangle, a collection of towns that include Fallujah. The towns have have been hotspots of resistance in the guerilla war against coalition forces.

The 3rd BDE Combat Team facilities include FOB ST Mere (3rd BDE) to FOB Volturno (1-505), FOB ST. Michael (3-505), FOB Mercury (1-504), and FOB Chosin (1-32).

In memory of its fallen troopers, the Third United States Cavalry Regiment has renamed its forward operating bases (FOBs) after them. Since deploying to the desert in late March of 2003, the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen has lost to enemy or accident, twenty-one of its brave soldiers. Sixteen have come from the Fort Carson area and 5 have been from other units that have been, or still are, attached to the Regiment. Approved by Combined Joint Task Force-7, the command and control element that runs all operations in Iraq, and effective 16 October 2003, six forward operating bases have taken new names. There are plans to continue to memorialize the Regiment's fallen heroes in the future.

They are with honor labeled after the following troopers:

  • FOB BROOMHEAD - Named after Sergeant Thomas F. Broomhead who was killed 27 May 2003 by enemy fire while conducting checkpoint operations.
  • FOB BYERS - Named after Captain Joshua T. Byers, Commander of Fox Troop, 2/3 ACR. CPT Byers was killed 17 July 2003 by an improvised explosive device during a convoy. Fort Carson has also renamed a street on the Mountain Post for Captain Byers.
  • FOB GIVENS - Named after Private First Class Jesse A. Givens. Private Givens drowned 1 May 2003 when the tank in which was driving slid into a water-filled canal.
  • FOB LATHEM - Named for Staff Sergeant William T. Latham who died on 18 June 2003 of injuries sustained while conducting a raid on a suspected arms market in Fallujah, Iraq.
  • FOB MILLER - Named after Staff Sergeant Frederick L. Miller who died of wounds on 20 September 2003. An improvised explosive device struck Sergeant Miller's Bradley Fighting vehicle during a convoy.
  • FOB QUINN - Named after Staff Sergeant Michael B. Quinn who 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 is impossible, since not all operating locations have been publicly reported, and some reported operating locations may have become inactive. The tally is also complicated by the multiplication of names that have been applied to a specific locations, and the existence of multiple place names for contiguous locations. This is particularly notable at Baghdad International Airport and the contiguous palace facilities.

The U.S. Army's top general said 28 January 2004 he is making plans based on the possibility that the Army will be required to keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq through 2006. Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee of the United States that "for planning purposes" he has ordered his staff to consider how the Army would replace the force that is now rotating into Iraq with another force of similar size in 2005 - and again in 2006.

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 Capt. Eric Paliwoda, who died 02 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 nore 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 are intended to reinforce the idea that these are not US bases. The land belongs to the Iraqis, and the legacy left by this operation should be one of Iraqi services and not the US spirit. The new names are posted in English and Arabic at the entrance of each base.

OLD NAME NEW NAME (ARABIC) ENGLISH
Banzai Al-Adala Justice
Cooke Taji Taji
Cuervo Rustamiyah Rustamiyah
Eagle Al-Amal Hope
Ferrin-Huggins Al-Saqr Falcon
Greywolf Al-Tawheed Al-Awal Union I
Gunslinger Al-Tadamun Solidarity
Headhunter Al-Istiqulal Independence
Highlander Al-Isdehar Prosperity
Iron Horse Al-Watani Patriot
North Victory Al-Tahreer Liberty
Outlaw Al-Hurya Al-Thani Freedom II
Steel Dragon Al-Sharaf Honor
Trojan Horse Al-Tawheed Al-Thalith Union III
Victory Al-Nasr Victory
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, is 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.



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