Thumrait Air Base, Oman
Oman, perhaps the strongest supporter of the US presence in the Gulf, signed an access agreement with the United States in 1981, an unpopular time to do so. It hosts three Air Force pre-positioning sites with support equipment for 26,000 personnel as well as required equipment and fuel to maintain three air bases.
Thumrait IAP, in Oman is a Harvest Falcon depot. Harvest Falcon is the Air Force's transportable system of modular personnel tents, shelters, equipment, and vehicles to be used when there are infrastructure limitations. The Harvest Falcon equipment is an 1,100-person housekeeping set of tents, electrical generators and billets.
Thumrait AB participated in the Air Force's first air expeditionary wing force deployment, serving as the host for the 305th Air Expeditionary Wing. In 2002 one press report mentioned the presence of the "406th Air Expeditionary Wing" near Thumrait, equipped with air refueling aircraft, but such a unit is otherwise un-atttested.
The town of Thumrait is on the main road which links Dhofar to the rest of Oman. In the ancient days Thumrait was an important point on the caravan routes through the Arabian peninsula. Frankincense trees used to grow in abundance although now they are fewer in number. The main occupation of the people of Thumrait is the cultivation of fruit, vegetables and animal fodder.
This former oil depot was initially fortified as the guarantor of Omani airspace in the south of the country. At first, Hunter FG9 aircraft constituted a deterrent force with ground attack and intercept capabilities. In 1977 the strike capability was enhanced by the addition of 12 new Jaguar aircraft.
The USAF 1660th Tactical Airlift Wing (Provisional) deployed to Thumrait AB, Oman to support Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. On 1l August 1990 British VC10 tankers accompanied 12 Jaguars into Thumrait in Oman two days later and set up a detachment at the Omani airfield. The Squadron was no stranger to Thumrait as an aircraft had deployed there in January 1988 to provide AAR training to the Omani Jaguar squadron based there. However, the base was not well suited to the handling of large aircraft for extended periods and on 29 August 1990 the three aircraft detachment moved to Seeb near Muscat.
On Aug. 9, 1990, the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron launched the first of three fighter cells in a driving rain to head to Southwest Asia. The Rocketeers destination was Thumrait, Oman. The deployment took place seven days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. While crossing the Mediterranean Sea, the 336th received a change in plans - they were to land in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, before proceeding to Oman. One speculation had is that the change was because the 336th needed to touch down on "holy ground" before entering Oman. With more than 22 hours in the air, people from the 4th Fighter Wing were remarkably "ready to go" when they reached Thumrait and were combat ready by Aug. 12. Approximately 918 support personnel and 588 tons of cargo deployed along with the Rocketeers from Aug. 9-26. The first order of business for people arriving at Thumrait was building a "tent city" - food and medical facilities were the first priority. The city was fully completed Sept. 15.
During Desert Storm commanders had to make a decision about whether or not to move the E-3 AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft out of Scud range. They were positioned at Riyadh Air Base and Saddam was shooting Scuds at them. The question was whether to leave them there or move them to Thumrait, which would have put another hour or hour-and-a-half between them and their operational area. It was decided to leave them at Riyadh.
After the bombing of the Khobar Towers a tasking was sent to deploy an Air Transportable Hospital (ATH) from Thumrait, Oman to Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB) in Saudi Arabia as the closest available medical asset. Unfortunately, difficulty in moving the equipment through a border necessitated that an ATH from Mountain Home AFB be tasked instead. The Mountain Home ATH arrived in theater before the one already there could clear customs at the border of a neighboring state.
USAF Prepositioned War Reserve Materiel (WRM) provides support to bare base systems, medical, munitions, fuels mobility support equipment, vehicles, rations, aerospace ground equipment, air base operability equipment, and associated spares and other consumables at designated locations. Responsible for asset receipt, accountability, serviceability, storage, security, periodic inspection and test, maintenance, repair, outload, and reconstitution of prepositioned WRM. Current WRM operating locations include Seeb, Thumrait, Masirah, Oman; Al Udeid, Qatar; and Manama, Bahrain. War reserve materiel includes medical and munitions, warehousing of rations, and various other supplies.
United States Central Command Air Forces (USCENTAF), the designated air component of United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), uses prepositioned war reserve materiel (WRM) to support apportioned combat forces deployed to Southwest Asia (SWA). Prepositioning is a force multiplier for providing bare base systems; medical; munitions; Tanks, Racks, Adapters, and Pylons (TRAP); Fuels Mobility Support Equipment (FMSE); vehicles; rations; Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE); Air Base Operability (ABO) equipment; and associated spares and other consumables at designated operating locations. Prepositioning also mitigates transportation requirements and time/distance realities involved in moving like assets from the continental United States (CONUS) to SWA. The Contractor is responsible for asset receipt, accountability, serviceability, storage, security, periodic inspection and test, maintenance, repair, outload, and reconstitution of prepositioned WRM in the USCENTAF Area of Responsibility (AOR).
Hurlburt Field's 16th Special Operations Wing 823rd Red Horse Squadron deployed to Thumrait 17 April 1996 to take part in an exercise with the Omani military called Eastern Castle, helping build runway and apron extensions and installing overhead lighting in aircraft hangars. Members of the 28th Air Expeditionary Group departed from Ellsworth AFB, SD on 21 November 1998, enroute to their deployed site, Thumrait AB, Oman.
Two of four Jet A-1 storage tanks at Thumrait Air Base, Oman were temporarily additized to meet the JP8 specification-a procedure never before allowed by the Royal Air Force of Oman-to support Operation Desert Thunder. These efforts supported a response of increased activity in the Gulf region as a result of Saddam Hussein's unwillingness to allow inspectors into selected sites in mid-1998. By July 2001 facilities in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman were using JP8 for the first time. Two of four Jet A-1 storage tanks at Thumrait Air Base, Oman have been temporarily additized to meet the JP8 specification-a procedure never before allowed by the Royal Air Force of Oman-to support Operation Desert Thunder.
In 1999 the 653rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron, deployed a 23-member Rapid Area Distribution Support, or RADS, team to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, to tear down and reconstitute what is believed to be the largest tent city in Air Force history. However, the team's mission immediately changed upon arrival. Instead of breaking down and packing the tents to go to Thumrait, Oman, real world contingencies dictated that the cargo be sent to war-torn Kosovo refugees.
A team of US military members working in the Omani embassy worked with Omani officials, especially the Royal Air Force of Oman, to plan and execute the reception and transfer of 219 USS Cole sailors from the USS Tarawa Amphibious Readiness Group to Thumrait Air Base in Oman, for movement to the United States after the 12 October 2000 bombing.
A total of eight B-1Bs (of the 28th AEW) were based at Diego Garcia until mid-December 2001. The 28th AEW was moved out of Diego Garcia in mid-December and relocated at a base closer to Afghanistan. USAF documents post-1st January refer to the 405th AEW and all photos show a desert-like surrounding. This seems to indicate that the B-1Bs are now part of the 405th AEW are operating from Oman.
Services under the War Reserve Materiel (WRM) contract are performed by DynCorp Technical Services at Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) bases at Masirah, Thumrait, and Seeb; Al Udeid, Qatar; Manama, Bahrain; and Shaw AFB, SC. DynCorp provides support to bare base systems, medical, munitions, fuels mobility support equipment, vehicles, rations, aerospace ground equipment, air base operability equipment, and associated spares and other consumables at designated locations. Responsible for asset receipt, accountability, serviceability, storage, security, periodic inspection and test, maintenance, repair, outload, and reconstitution of prepositioned WRM. This is a one year contract with an option to renew the contract. Total length of contract is seven years.
Services include maintaining war reserve materiel (WRM) stored in the Sultanate of Oman, State of Bahrain, and State of Qatar. In Oman, contract performance is on Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) government installations, and all access to the installations is controlled by the RAFO Security. In Bahrain, performance is in an area controlled by US Navy and Bahrain Port Authority. In Qatar, the Host Nation controls access to the work site.
War reserve materiel includes medical and munitions, warehousing of rations, and various other supplies. The contractor shall be responsible for performing all or any specifically designated portions of the functions accomplished under this contract during any wartime operations. Wartime operations are those actions, including contingency planning, which would be required to support current or any future United States Air Force wartime requirement. Emergency situations (i.e., accident and rescue operations, civil disturbances, natural disasters and military peacetime contingency operations and exercises) may necessitate the Contractor provide increased or reduced support as indicated below when required by Contracting Officer. Military contingency operations may necessitate military personnel assistance be provided to the Contractor. Should this occur, the Contractor will be relieved of responsibilities and accountability for the phase of the contract taken over by the military. Optional WRM sites may be exercised at any time during the performance of this contract. In the event the Government adds a new site to the contract, both parties to this contract hereby agree to negotiate in good faith the applicable price necessary to account for the change.
Exercise Saif Sareea 2 (Swift Sword 2) was a major bilateral military exercise between the UK and Oman which was held in Oman between September and November 2001. The exercise involved a combination of His Majesty the Sultan's Armed Forces and Her Majesty's UK Armed Forces who will train together on land, at sea and in the air. It was the latest in the UK's series of major training exercises which are held approximately every four years. The aim of the exercise was to deploy, sustain, exercise and recover a medium scale warfighting Joint Task Force at strategic distance into a key strategic area, as identified in the Strategic Defence Review, in order to demonstrate the Joint Rapid Reaction Force Concept. The LAND component comprised 1 (UK) Armoured Division HQ, 4 Armoured Brigade and the necessary supporting elements. The Helicopter Force, consisting of approximately 500 personnel, initially deployed to RAFO THUMRAIT between 20 August and 3 September 2001. They would be operating from various locations throughout Oman in order to support the exercise, with other Support Helicopter (SH) assets operating in support of the Special Forces (SF) and Maritime components. Officer Commanding 33 Squadron, Wing Commander Baz North, was appointed as the Support Helicopter Force Commander for the duration of Exercise SAIF SAREEA II. His task was to exercise co-ordinating authority and functional control for all JHC Force Elements and aircraft at RAFO Thumrait and at sites where JHC assets were co-located.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|