Military


Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar
25°06'57"N 51°18'55"E

The U.S.-Qatar military relationship is extremely important. Qatar provides the U.S. military exceptional access to two major Qatari military installations, Al Udaid Air Base and Camp As-Saliyeh - perhaps CENTCOM's most important operating installations outside of Iraq. Qatar charges no rent.

AFCENT has long wanted Qatar to build a second runway at Al Udaid something the Qataris had long resisted. In March 2008, the Qataris agreed to build it and, apparently, pay for it. In response to projected growth at Al Udaid, Qatar originally proposed and contracted to build a second taxiway to the west of the current runway. AFCENT encouraged Qatar to build a second runway as well to deal with increased traffic expected as QEAF moved its Doha-based military planes to Al Udaid. Qatar agreed to fund and build the second runway. However, in 2009 its negotiations to revise the original construction contract stalled, reportedly due to the slowing economy.

Only the permanent stationing of military troops in another country constitutes a base. A facility may be smaller, have a lower profile — particularly if it is manned primarily by locals, and be more focused on support activities. There is also the issue of who “owns” the facility. For example, Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is a Qatari Air Force Base. However, while there were probably only 100 or so Qatari personnel stationed there, as of 2010 the facility hosted over 10,000 U.S. personnel, but technically it is not a U.S. base.

As of September 2002 about 2,000 American soldiers were stationed at Al Udeid, down from a peak of 4,000 during the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The United States kept two dozen KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10A Extenders at the base for in-flight refueling of fighter jets and bombers over Afghanistan. And though the number of American soldiers on the base had fallen by half since the peak of the Afghan campaign, to about 2,200, the base had been expanded over the previous six months to accommodate up to 10,000 troops and 120 aircraft.

Qatar agreed to host pre-positioned equipment for an Army brigade, and in 1996 it hosted an air expeditionary force consisting of 30 fighters and four tankers. Air Force pre-positioning was facilitated by the construction of what may be the premier air base in the Gulf at Al-Udeid. The Qatari philosophy behind construction was likened to "build it and they will come" -- obtain the best defense by providing the best facilities for US and coalition forces. The Al-Udeid Air Base was built at a cost of more than a billion dollars. Its runway measures 15,000 long -- the longest in the Gulf. The facility's shelters can accommodate nearly a hundred aircraft, rather more than needed by the Qatari Air Force, which has only a dozen fighters. The facility is owned and operated by the Qatari armed forces.

In 1999, Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad, reportedly told US officials that he would like to see as many as 10,000 US servicemen permanently stationed at Al Udeid.

In April 2000, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen discussed ways in which Al-Udeid [Udaid or Udayd] may be used in the future, in a crisis situation for air expeditionary forces. Qatar and the Pentagon continue to discuss an agreement on giving US warplanes access to an air base here in times of crisis or when US aircraft carriers are absent from the Gulf. Access to the Qatari base would give US forces a broader network of bases in the region from which to project force and counter potential threats from Iran as well as Iraq. Among the issues that have to be worked out is who would pay for upgrades that would be required to accommodate an air expeditionary force of about 30 to 40 fighter jets. Hangars, prefabricated maintenance buildings, aprons, and sunshades for the fighters would have to built at Al-Udeid, a huge air field about 35 kilometers south of Doha.

In the autumn of 2001, the US began installing computers, communications and intelligence equipment and other assets at Al Udeid Air Base, in order to establish an alternate command center.

A memorial at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, honors Master Sgt. Evander Earl "Andy" Andrews, a civil engineer who died on Oct. 10, 2001, in a construction accident. "Camp Andy," Al Udeid's 288-tent complex, was named after Andrews. The civil engineer was Operation Enduring Freedom's first fatality.

When the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron at Hurlburt Field deployed on 02 October 2001, the Qatar base was nothing more than a runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses. There was no room in the warehouses for the RED HORSE airmen to sleep, so they moved into an expandable shelter on the flightline and lived and worked out of there. A $9.1 million military construction project consisted of building a 1,240- foot by 630-foot concrete ramp with taxiways, shoulders and lighting. It is the largest construction project ever undertaken by a RED HORSE team. After two months, no money or approval had been received for the ramp development, so the RED HORSE troops spent days doing other base projects, like building the operations center and helping set up the tent city. Construction of the ramp got under way in early January and was finished in late March. The ramp stretches out 8 football fields.

In March 2002 Vice President Cheney visited the huge US installation in the desert on the outskirts of Doha, Qatar that offers long runways for planes used for midair refueling. The airfield had been classified as secret until Cheney's visit. The base's entrance is marked only by a handwritten "Army Camp" sign. In his first stop to an Operation Enduring Freedom base in the Middle East, Vice President Dick Cheney visited the 366th Air Expeditionary Wing 17 March 2002. As part of his 10-day, 12-nation tour of the region, the vice president addressed servicemembers on the vital role they're playing in the war on terrorism and the great humanitarian assistance they're providing to the Afghani people.

By early 2002, the numbers of US warplanes and personnel at the base had increased substantially. As of mid-March 2002 several thousand American troops were stationed at Al-Udeid in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Many of these troops were supporting the large complement of US aircraft, which included F-16 fighters, JSTARS reconnaissance aircraft, and KC-10, KC-130 and KC-135 aerial tankers.

By late March 2002 the US was moving communications and computer equipment from Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia to Al-Udeid, in a move intended to provide long-term operational flexibility to war commanders in the region. The equipment relocation would allow various forces in the region to operate better together. These preparations have made it possible for the United States to set up a new headquarters in the space of a few days. The facility is an alternative Combined Air Operations Center [CAOC - pronounced kay-ock], though the modest Qatar facility is not a complete replica of the CAOC at Prince Sultan AB in Saudi Arabia.

US Central Command denied that the move indicated an impending attack on Iraq, or that it was a sign that the US was leaving Prince Sultan Air Base. The US arrangement with Qatar allows a wider range of military operations than are permitted by the US agreement with the Saudi Arabia. The Qataris have indicated they would not place limits on rules of engagement.

By April 2002, about 2,000 troops were living in the desert in a large military tent city known as "Camp Andy" and named after Air Force Master Sgt Evander Andrews, the first US casualty of Operation Enduring Freedom, who died as a result of a forklift accident in October 2001. By mid-June 2002 over 3,000 Americans were stationed at Al-Udeid. The American compound is a temporary living and working area of nearly 200 heavy-duty, tan-colored tents first set up in September 2001.

As of mid-June 2002, construction of the first swimming pool at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, was nearing completion. Prior to that, only two military-issued, above-ground pools were present at the facility.

The United States may station up to 50 warplanes and several thousand US troops permanently. Qatar has offered to spend about $400 million for upgrades at the base, including permanent housing, storage tanks with a capacity of one million gallons of aviation fuel, and a command-and-control facility.

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. 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).

The State of Qatar is situated halfway along the west coast of the Persian Gulf, on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula. The present population is estimated at 600,000 inhabitants most of whom reside in Doha, the capital city. It is a Peninsula that extends northward covering an area of 11,437 sq. km. as well as a number of islands in the coastal waters of the peninsula. The terrain is generally flat. However, there are some hills and sand dunes which reach an altitude of 40 metres above sea level in the areas of Dukhan and Jebel Fuwairit in the western and northern parts of the country and Khor Al-Udeid in the south.

Undoubtedly one of the most scenic of places to visit in Qatar is Khor Al Udeid - or the inland sea which penetrates the country in the southeast. Khor means inlet in Arabic. Here the sea surges in a wide channel dividing Qatar from Saudi Arabia and then curves to create a vast, shallow tidal lake. The Khor Al Udeid is not, despite its name, a real landlocked sea, but is a long, narrow channel of the Gulf on the borders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. A huge tidal lake is formed at the inlet between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is a surreal place, with white sand dunes on one side of the inlet facing the pink cliffs of Saudi Arabia on the other. It is long way off the beaten path and you will need either a boat or a four - wheel drive to get there. The government is particularly keen to preserve the beauty of Khor Al Udeid, and it has been agreed that no construction is to take place in the region. As a result, the area is pristine, and attracts wildlife, such as the migratory birds which gather there in abundance. The area is vast and affords plenty of opportunity to drive over both sabkha, or salt flats, and an astounding variety of sand dunes of all shapes and sizes. The area contains many magnificent, unspoiled beaches and is perfect both for day trips and for overnight (or longer) camping trips.

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.

At 2200 on 04 April 2008, Al Jazeera ran breaking news stating that Al Jazeera had learned that a U.S. B-52 bomber had crashed at AUAB due to a technical failure. Al Jazeera kept this information on its news scroll until 2300, when it aired a correction stating that the plane that "crashed" was a B-1. The fact that Al Jazeera broke the story suggests that the Qatari leadership, which must have approved the broadcast, wanted to put the story out quickly in an effort to contain it. Hydraulic failure caused the U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber to veer off the runway, and it caught fire following a ground incident, at the Al Udeid Air Base. The aircraft, which was returning from a combat mission, caught fire and the blaze set off the munitions onboard. In March 2008 a B-1 bomber slid off the runway at Anderson Air Force base on Guam, crashing into a group of emergency vehicles.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list