King Khalid Military City (KKMC)
Al Batin, Saudi Arabia
27°57'22"N 45°33'05" E
King Khalid Military City (KKMC or "Emerald City") at Al Batin, Saudi Arabia was built to defend the north-eastern border of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Designed for an army division of three brigades, the city had a design population of about 65,000 people. In the 1960s and 1970s, U.S. Army and Air Force engineers designed and constructed several Saudi bases, including Taif, King Khalid Military City and Khamis Mushait. History shows these bases and support facilities provided the needed infrastructure to help absorb a deployment of the size and speed of Desert Shield.
The city's early conception and master planning began in 1974, and final construction was completed in 1986. According to some estimates the cost of construction was $1.3-billion, while other estimates suggest that the overall budget was between eight and twenty billion dollars. The project included the world's largest pre-cast concrete plant, built on-site. A new port was built on the Persian Gulf for the imported materials and equipment. Twenty-one new wells were drilled to provide the water needed. Al-Huseini Airports Development Agency (Saudi Arabi) Limited (1979-1984) provided multi-disciplined engineering support two projects worth U.S. $ 465 million at King Khalid Military City. Projects consisted of 3387 double story family housing units with utility tunnels, 5 multi-dome mosques and associated facilities. On 29 November 1982 the Department of Defense notified Congress of plans to sell Saudi Arabia $1.2 billion of military supplies and services under three separate agreements, which included $700 million for the design and construction of an airfield at King Khalid Military City.
King Khalid Military City is located in the northeast corner of the Kingdom, near Kuwait. King Khalid Military City lies around 400km from Riyadh, and about 60km from the town of Hafr Al Batin. The weather in KKMC is generally hot and dry thru the summer with somewhat cooler temperatures during the winter months. Humidity is greater than in Riyadh, but less than at the coastal cities with a range from 30-60 %. Rainfall is virtually non-existent.
Most of the desert near KKMC is not the stark but beautiful desert seen in Lawrence of Arabia with deep sand and massive, windswept dunes. Instead there are miles of flat, pebble-strewn, hard-packed sand or dirt. This flat, hard surface seems to go on forever as it stretches to the horizon. King Khalid Military City is located two hours from the Kuwait and Iraq borders. It is the most religiously conservative area of a country whose sole religion is Islam.
King Khalid Military City (KKMC) is located in the Northeast corner of the Kingdom near Kuwait. It is designated as an unaccompanied tour for US personnel. USMTM personnel assigned there belong to one Army Aviation TAFT but AMC-SA is expanding its operations in the area as well. As a military area, access in somewhat restricted. All support is drawn from Riyadh.
The theater of operations for Desert Shield was Saudi Arabia, a country of 840,000 square miles, most of which is uninhabited desert. The extremes of the desert environment are inhospitable to people and equipment, which compounded the challenge of sustaining military operations. The primary airports of debarkation and embarkation were Dhahran, Riyadh, and King Khalid Military City in Saudi Arabia.
King Khalid Military City was used to house thousands of American and other coalition soldiers during Operation Desert Storm. Of the many countries representing the coalition during the Persian Gulf War, troops from two countries -- the former Czechoslovakia and France -- reported chemical agent detections during Operation DESERT STORM. The detections were confined to within an approximately 35 mile radius near Hafir al Batin and King Khalid Military City, and all the detections occurred within the first week of the air war campaign of Operation DESERT STORM. The Czech detections made on 19 and 24 January 1991 are credible. The other detections, while not as thoroughly substantiated, cannot be discounted.
In its heyday, hundreds of US Army Corps of Engineers personnel made KKMC their home, and a small American city evolved within the Saudi military city. To many people it was literally the edge of the earth. The nearest town, Hafar Al-Batin, is 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) north and, until recently, that was just a small settlement where the Dhahran pipeline road crosses the Kuwait-Riyadh road in the Wadi Al Batin. There was no satellite TV at KKMC, and telephone calls to the US were expensive. As construction projects wrapped up and the Americans and their families departed, there were even less facilities and activities available to remaining personnel. During and after Desert Storm, the Combat Equipment Group, Southwest Asia (CEGWA) was based at King Khalid Military City.
During the Gulf War the presence of 823rd and 820th RED HORSE Squadron personnel in theater provided additional capability to undertake the major beddown tasks. From October 1990 to March 1991, a combined 435-person RED HORSE squadron was involved in more than 25 major projects, valued at more than $14.6 million. These included integrated combat turn pads at King Khalid Military City. An Air Force RED HORSE team built a forward operating location 50 miles from the Iraqi border at King Khalid Military City. Contract employees were prohibited from this site because of security concerns. Initially planned as an 800-person site with limited turn capability for flying missions, the base continued to expand until its population reached nearly 2,000 in February 1991.
During the Gulf War US special forces teams conduct MOUT training with Kuwaitis at King Khalid Military City. The 5th Special Forces Group was based at King Fahd Airport west of Dhahran, and the 160th Special Operations Unit at King Khalid Military City.
TF 2-43 ADA (Patriot) deployed from Germany & was attached to 11th ADA Brigade, providing Scud defense of King Khalid Military City in Saudi Arabia. On 21 February 1991 Iraq fired three Scud missiles at King Khalid Military City, which were reportedly destroyed by Patriot interceptors.
The 144th Service and Supply Company, Army National Guard (ARNG), was responsible for establishing a central receiving and storage point for all damaged and destroyed combat vehicles. Thirteen Abrams and 15 Bradleys, contaminated with DU during Operation Desert Storm, were returned to the 144th Service and Supply Company at King Khalid Military City, Saudi Arabia. The Army buried six destroyed Bradleys at King Khalid Military City. These vehicles were not returned to the US, because the certifying officer was unable to declare that the wreckage was free of unexploded ordnance.
The 411th Engineer Brigade (Reserve) had responsibility for all Theater Army engineering - all the engineer missions not directly supporting either of the two Corps. Their area of responsibility was all of Saudi Arabia, south of Tapline Road. Their headquarters was located in Dhahran, with a Forward element stationed at King Khalid Military City. Following the cease fire the 54th Engineer Battalion was moved to northern Kuwait, and then later back into Iraq, as it conducted extensive denial missions destroying enemy equipment. Throughout the denial missions the battalion destroyed countless vehicles and tons of stored ammunition. On 10 March, D/54 and most of HHC moved back to King Khalid Military City in Saudi Arabia to construct the Divisional Redeployment Assembly Area (Camp Kasserine).
Operations in Southwest Asia ended for the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment on 7 April. The Fourth Brigade, First Infantry Division relieved the Second Dragoons of the screening mission on that date and the Regiment began a 200 mile march to the Rear Assembly Area near King Khalid Military City in Saudi Arabia. From that location, the Regiment initiated its redeployment operations which returned it to Germany by 26 April.
After the war, in July of 1991, the commanding general of the 21st TAACOM (CA) went to King Khalid Military City (KKMC) to close the base there. The US had thought to build a POMCUS site there, that is, storage buildings for US equipment for future eventualities out of sight of the Saudi people. Basically, the US wanted to be ready if Operation Desert Storm 2, if necessary. Staff from Combat Equipment Group Europe (CEGE) put together a list of equipment and supplies to put in storage. The State Department sent someone to negotiate the idea with the Saudis, but they rejected it out of hand. Their position was, "if we want anything, we'll buy it." This meant that the US had to move all the equipment left by our combat forces out of Saudi. Some materiel was moved to Kuwait where the US established the Combat Equipment Group South West Asia (CEGSWA), a brigade size POMCUS site at Doha, Kuwait.
Today, US presence at KKMC is minimal. There are only a handful of US government personnel still working and living there. Hafar Al-Batin grew a bit during the Gulf War, but it's still a two-grocery-store town with no Burger King or McDonalds.
Saudi Arabia received 12 AH-64A Apache helicopters in 1993. These are operated by Army Aviation Command at King Khalid Military City. These aircraft operate with Bell 406CS Combat Scouts in hunter killer teams.
On 12 January 2000 Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General, inaugurated the new presidential complex of the King Khalid Military City in Hafrul-Baten. The project, which includes 149 residential units at a cost of SR 133 million riyals. was implemented by a national company in two years.
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