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Herat Airfield
34°12'32"N 62°13'41"E

The Herat Airfield's runway has a length of 2,600 meters/8,255 feet.

Sakhidad Ghaznawy's picture of Afghanistan's past is 'grounded' in Herat's flightline. For 31 years, Ghaznawy has maintained the title of Herat's civilian airport manager, carrying on throughout decades of political unrest and national conflict.

Rulers have changed hands from Prime Minister Prince Mohammad Daoud, to the Mujahideen, the Soviet Union, the Taliban and now, the democratically-elected president, Hamid Karzai. "And I've been here through it all," he said. "The Russians came in about 25/26 years ago, invading our country and bombing this airport. When the Taliban ruled, they killed women, children . everyone. Now the Americans are here," Ghaznawy said. "They are very close to us, very dear to us; they are our guests."

In fact, he stated, the Americans built Herat's airfield about 46 or 47 years ago - an airfield that Ghaznawy and his nine-man team run 12 hours a day for only $60 a month, or 2,900 Afghani. "We are usually open from sunrise to sunset," he said, "and although I've been offered more money in other places, I will stay here. There in no training at this time, no one to send here if I retire. "This flightline is my responsibility," Ghaznawy said. "I work it for my country, not for money."

At 63 years old, Ghaznawy has spent half of his life living Afghanistan's history from Herat's tower; he plans to continue controlling the airways, seeing no change to his course on the horizon."

In less than 45 days a Tanker Airlift Control Element, primarily deployed from the 621st Contingency Response Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., achieved what some may deem impossible. This 47-person team prepared Herat for the bed down of 300+ Italian troops as they assumed leadership over the International Security Assistance Force and eventually the entire western region of Afghanistan. For this particular tasking, they supported two C-17 sorties every day. They also assisted the Italian aerial port in servicing Coalition C-130s that land at Herat's airport. They brought these airlift aircraft in, offload them, upload whatever is required and send them on their way."

By early April 2005 there were about 70 Italians in place at Herat, with more than 200 slated to arrive by the end of May 2005.

To ready the airfield for ISAF's transfer of authority, the TALCE requires specialists from a variety of combat support career fields. A TALCE is made up of three main assets: command and control, aerial port and maintenance. Depending on the tasking, it can also deploy with experts in intelligence, Office of Special Investigations, security forces, medical, finance, weather and contracting. "

This TALCE is unique in that it includes one finance NCO and eight security forces personnel - a supplement to McGuire's eight-person force -- from Travis AFB, Calif., as well as a full, four-person medical element out of MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. The medical team is made up of a flight doc, medical technician, public health professional and bioenvironmental engineer. Their job is to not only provide medical care for the TALCE team on the ground, but also prepare the incoming main party on what to expect regarding regional medical concerns.




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