Military


Mazar-e-Sharif Airfield
36°42'25"N 67°12'33"E

As of 08 November 2001 Afghanistan's opposition forces were struggling to advance against the Taleban in their efforts to re-capture the strategic northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Opposition forces under General Rashid Dostum faced stiff resistance as they pushed forward from territory recaptured from the Taleban near Mazar-e-Sharif. Within a few days, however, the Taleban retreated from the strategically-important town of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. They retreated from towns in surrounding provinces as well.

In late November 2001 Northern Alliance troops put down a violent revolt by captured foreign soldiers Foreign prisoners who had escaped from their detention cells fought a pitched battle with Northern Alliance troops for three days inside a mud fortress in Mazar-e-Sharif. Some two-hundred additional Alliance soldiers were brought in to put down the rebellion. The rebellion began when hundreds of Pakistani, Arab, and Chechen fighters captured from nearby Kunduz province seized weapons and tried to escape. Northern Alliance troops, backed by U-S warplanes and U-S and British special forces, killed most of the rioting prisoners who fought back with machine guns, rockets and mortars. - Five service members were injured 25 November 2001 during a "friendly fire" incident during the prison riot near Mazar-e Sharif. None of the injuries was life threatening.

As of early January 2002 approximately 200 soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division, known as Task Force Commando, were operating from the Mazar-e-Sharif Airfield. The Mazar-e-Sharif Airfield's runway has a length of 3,100 meters/10,500 feet.

As of late January 2002 control of Mazar-e-Sharif was divided among three warlords who are long-time rivals. Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum represents the Uzbeks, Commander Mohaqaq represents the Hazara tribes, and Commander Uftad Ata represents the Tajiks and is a supporter of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

On July 1st, 2004 NATO officially expanded it's presence in Northern Afghanistan with flag raising ceremonies in Mazar-e-sharif and Maimana along with a number of other provinces. NATO forces took control of a number of Northern PRT's stepping up their humanitarian assistance and reconstruction operations.

Camp Marmal in Mazar-e-Sharif is the headquarters for ISAF's Regional Command North (RC North). As of January, 2008 ISAF maintains control of the Mazar-e-Sharif Airfield. The ISAF contingent there is made up of a number of units including a firefighting detachment that could respond to incidences at the airfield itself or elsewhere within Mazar-e-Sharif. Also there were six Recce Tornados from the German Airforce that conducted routine reconnaisance flights in support of ISAF forces operating around Mazar-e-Sharif.

About 2,000 ISAF soldiers were in Mazar-e-Sharif, about 1500 of which are German, the other 500 come from a variety of other countries including Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Latvia.


Footage of airstrike on a tank near the
Mazar-e-Sharif Airfield used during DoD news briefing of October 16, 2001

Click on the small image to view the video
Movie showing airstrike on a tank near the Mazar-e-Sharif Airfield
The video clip above shows a tank near the airfield at Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan. The vehicle is in a defensive position as it is hit with two weapons, and struck with some precision.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list