Military


Kandahar / Qandahar Airfield
Firebase Gecko
31°30'21"N 65°50'52"E

The Kandahar Airfield has a runway length of 3,200 meters/10,500 feet. Kandahar has Class C airspace 30 NM radius from the ARP, from the surface up to and including FL290 except the designated Kandahar Tower airspace. Coincident with the stand up of the Low Airway Structure, Class C airspace will change to 50NM radius from the TACAN from the surface up to and including FL290 except the designated Kandahar Tower airspace.

Located 15 miles from the city of Kandahar, this air field was one of the most remote, landlocked and desolate places the US Army had ever tried to build a combat base. It made for a perfect hub for the coalition to go on missions into the mountains to battle the Taliban or perform reconstruction projects that range from digging a well for a village to setting the stage for national elections and ratifying a constitution.

As of late January 2002, there were approximately a little over 4,000 US troops in Afghanistan, of which about 3,000 were at Kandahar airport, and about 500 were stationed at the air base in Bagram. As of early February 2002, a total of 3,600 soldiers were deployed at Kandahar. Of these, more than 1,600 were from the 101st Division's 3rd Brigade, 2nd Battalion (another 700 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Battalion were based in Pakistan). The rest were a combination of other US forces, Canadian troops and smaller contingents from other countries.

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division wrapped up the last Hajj flight 17 March 2003, putting an end to a mission that had great religious significance in this Muslim country. Since the time of Hajj began in early January, more than 7,000 Afghans had filed through the gates of Kandahar to take an Ariana Airlines flight to Mecca. Ensuring the experience was a success came down to 82nd members from Task Force Devil and support assets.

The Hajj is the one of the five pillars of Islam, an annual pilgrimage to the site of the final resting place of the prophet Mohammad at Mecca in Saudi Arabia. To be considered a true Muslim, members of this religion must make the pilgrimage once in their life if they are able.

US soldiers were responsible for providing a safe environment for Hajj pilgrims to load onto the aircraft in Kandahar and get to Saudi Arabia. There were 4 other Hajj departure sites in the country: Mazar-E Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad and Kabul. Hajj departures from these cities were handled by the Islamic Transitional Government of Afghanistan/Transitional Islamic State of Aghanistan. The only exception was Kandahar, which was run by the US Army.

According to an 29 October 2003 AFPS story, Kandahar Air Field was in the process of undergoing improvements. The facility's Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent had moved to a larger, more convenient location past the hangar on Warrior Way. The gym had been moved from behind the post exchange to the same area as the MWR tent. A new PX Mini Mall was also being constructed, complete with a new alterations and embroidery shop. The base's gift shop was being also improved while a jewelry shop, sporting goods store, coffee shop and Hot Dog Shop were being opened. Further improvements were planned, including modular housing made of aluminum, complete with central air conditioning and heat, showers, toilets and refrigerators, and to feature four-man rooms.

During Operation Enduring Freedom IV, Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan hosted 3 transportation elements. The first element, the transportation cell from the 10th Forward Support Battalion, 10th Mountain Division's Tactical Operations Center, consisted of a transportation lieutenant; 2 noncommissioned officers (NCOs) with military occupational specialty (MOS) 88N, transportation management coordinator; and 2 enlisted soldiers with MOS 88M, truck driver. The 88Ns were organic to the 10th FSB, and the 88Ms were attachments from D Company, 710th Main Support Battalion (MSB). Together, they coordinated inbound and outbound surface movements.

The second element, the central receiving point (CRP), was part of the FSB. The CRP had 6 stake-and-platform (S&P) trucks and 3 family of medium tactical vehicles (FMTV) trucks that were operated by 18 88M truck drivers who were attached from D Company, 710th MSB. A first lieutenant and a staff sergeant led the CRP detachment. This slice element was necessary because the FSB did not have an organic truck platoon. The CRP's primary mission was to receive Air Force 463L and DHL pallets of materiel and deliver them to destinations at Kandahar Airfield such as the ammunition supply point, the class I (subsistence) facility, or the multiclass warehouse. DHL was a commercial shipper that delivered high-priority items, mail, and fresh fruits and vegetables to Afghanistan.

The third element was the movement control team (MCT). It consisted of a container management team, a rough-terrain container handler (RTCH) team, a team of load planners, and an air movement team, all of which were subordinate to the 330th Transportation Battalion based at Bagram Airfield. The MCT's mission included joint movement center (JMC) request prioritization and container management. A JMC request was the document used by the joint movement center to prioritize, track, and ensure proper planning of cargo requirements. Since the MCT worked closely with the Air Force, it was collocated with the arrival and departure airfield control group.

All 3 of these transportation elements worked closely at Kandahar Airfield. Force protection concerns led Army transporters to have few, if any, missions with their own assets outside the Kandahar Airfield perimeter. Afghanistan was still considered too dangerous a place for supplies to be moved by military ground vehicles at that time. The Army did not use its own vehicles to deliver supplies because adequate military police support was unavailable and inadequate force protection would put soldiers in unnecessary danger and the delivery of supplies at risk. Therefore, local drivers delivered supplies to the forward operating bases (FOBs).

When the 10th Forward Support Brigade, 10th Mountain Division arrived at Kandahar Airfield, installation contractors were already providing life support services. Halliburton and Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) contractors performed housekeeping missions ranging from laundry to base camp maintenance. Their mission gradually expanded to include preparing meals in the dining facility and operating the class I supply point. The purpose of this change was to free CSS soldiers for other, more pressing missions. The immediate impact was the return of soldiers attached to the 10th FSB to their original units. When the 10th FSB departed, KBR contractors operated the class III supply point, the multiclass warehouse, and other post facilities. However, the Army still was responsible for mission accomplishment because military personnel held accountable officer positions, and only soldiers performed missions outside the Kandahar Airfield perimeter, such as vehicle recovery.

US forces expected to move their operations from the northeastern half of Kandahar Airfield so the Afghan Government could develop a commercial air service. As a result, the 10th FSB had to move its class III fuel point. This move required close coordination with the facility engineers; the airfield support task force; the Air Expeditionary Group Commander, who represented the Air Force; and installation contractors. After reviewing cost, safety, and time factors, the FSB determined that the best course of action would be to establish a bag farm and have fuel trucks, manned by installation contractors, transport the fuel to the aircraft, rather than to install a complex piping system. Vehicle refueling remained the same since the retail point was at the bag farm. The reconfiguration of Kandahar Air Field compelled a number of other movements that had secondary or tertiary effects on logistics support.




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