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Al Asad Airfield [Qadisiyah Airbase]

Al Asad Airfield, the second largest airbase in Iraq, is located in northern Iraq approximately 180 kilometers West of Baghdad and 12 kilometers Southwest of the Euphrates River. The airfield is served by two main runways measuring 14,000 and 13,000 feet. Al Asad, like other military airbases across Iraq, has numerous hardened shelters and hangars with multiple runways and taxiways, patterned after their Russian counterparts. According to the "Gulf War Air Power Survey", Al Asad had 33 hardened aircraft shelters. At each end of the main runway are hardened aircraft shelters knowns as "Trapezoids" or "Yugos" which were build by Yugoslavian contractors some time prior to 1985. Al Asad is protected by a 21 kilometer security perimeter.

There is one Weapon Storage Areas (WSA) located 8 kilometers to the Northeast which occupies 3 square kilometers. This WSA appears on a 1985 Russian map but it is not known whether it was struck during Operation Desert Storm, or Desert Fox. The Al Asad airfield, housed three fighter squadrons - the bulk of the Iraqi air force.

As of 19 May 2002, there was no Ikonos imagery of Al Asad in Space Imaging's Carterra Archive. Al Asad airbase in Western Iraq is vast and empty, riddled with bunkers and broken aircraft.

Qadisiyah Airbase is named after the great battle of May 636 at Al Qadisiyah, a village south of Baghdad on the Euphrates. The Iranians, who outnumbered the Arabs six to one, were decisively beaten. From Al Qadisiyah the Arabs pushed on to the Sassanid capital at Ctesiphon, enabling Islam under Caliph Umar to spread to the East. During the 1980s, Baathist publicists regularly called the Iran-Iraq War a modern day "Qadisiyah" exploiting this age-old enmity in its propaganda and publicizing the war as part of the ancient struggle between the Arab and Persian empires.

FOB Webster / Objective Weber (Al Asad Airbase)

Australian Special Air Service Regiment troops captured the Al Asad Airfield on 16 April 2003. Counter-SF tactics saw the enemy concentrate sports utility vehicles (SUVs) mounted with heavy calibre machine-guns with mortar support to try and out manoeuvre and overwhelm the SF groups. They failed abysmally as SF, sometimes with close-air support, used superior tactics to devastate and defeat this determined enemy element. The key, it was found, lay in destroying the SUVs. With that done, surrender inevitably followed.

The coalition found scores of fighter aircraft, mostly Soviet-era MiGs but also three advanced MiG-25 Foxbats. Special operations forces entered al Asad airfield and found numerous fixed-wing fighter warplanes, apparently undamaged and many still in flyable condition, hidden under camouflage. The discovery of over 50 aircraft at AL Asad Air Base and nearly 8 million kilograms (8,000 tonnes) of explosive ordnance was a major achievement. The MiGs escaped detection during the coalition bombing campaign. Some were buried, others were parked in date palm tree groves or tucked in dried out riverbeds and covered with camouflage sheets.

Some of the Iraqi MiGs were in flying condition, and, as of late September 2004, remained a unique feature of the airbase, with parts lying discarded accross the barren landscape of Al Asad. Occasionally, one can find an engine of a MiG-25 Foxbat-considered to be the fastest fighter aircraft ever produced-being used as a roadblock.

With the capture of the airbase the SF refused to rest on their laurels - they got it working again. Although none are mechanics or airfield engineers, they repaired and rebuilt two bulldozers, a roller and a grader and repaired bomb craters on the airfield in order to allow 36 Sqn's C130s to land. Repair of the airfield also enabled a couple of high-profile visitors to deliver a personal thank you. Fittingly on Anzac Eve, Minister for Defence Robert Hill and CDF Gen Peter Cosgrove paid homage to the small quiet group who have forged an awesome reputation for Australia in the wastes of the western desert.

HHC 54th Engineer Battalion (Corps) (Mechanized) conducted initial reconnaissance of Al Asad Airbase in western Iraq on 30 APR 03. This aerial reconnaissance was for the purpose of determining the suitability of utilizing the runway to land military aircraft for resupply. Members of the recon team were CPT Sizemore, CPT Watkins, SFC Ellis, and SGT Thomas. The Regimental Support Squadron (RSS) battalion commander and CSM also attended the initial recon.

FOB Al Asad / Camp Al Asad

Upon arriving in Iraq, assets of the 3d ACR quickly took their positions in the Al Anbar Region of Iraq. The 3d ACR was assigned the difficult task of controlling what was and still is the "hot spot" of Iraq. Each squadron received minimal supplies to renovate the desolate and meager conditions found at each camp. In the process, troopers discovered a diamond in the rough, Al Asad Air Base. Al Asad, a state of the art facility, built by the Iraqi government and funded by Yugoslavia in the early 1980's was abandoned in the mid 1990's. Located on the facility, along with the majority of 3d ACR Troopers, was one of the most sophisticated hospitals in Iraq. In the hospital was found medical equipment formerly used by the Iraqi Army, abandoned and useless to the Army which now inhabits the base. Like the rest of Al Asad, the equipment gathered dust after the Iraqi Army abandoned the post.

The 3d ACR cleared the hospital and repaired what equipment they could. Civil Affairs assets from Long Knife Squadron decided to give the equipment to the local hospital in an effort to improve hospital quality within the community. Capt. Michael Rush, Civil Affairs Officer for Long Knife Squadron spearheaded the operation to get the equipment to the hospital within Baghdadi, Iraq, a small town outside of Al Asad Air Base.

In mid-September 2003 a brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division replaced the 2nd Squadron of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, freeing it to move west. After a short rest at Al Asad Airbase, Iraqi headquarters of the 3rd ACR, the squadron began its new mission securing more than 500 miles of border with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.

At the Al-Asad Air Base, soldiers of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment mourned their comrades-in-arms who died on 02 November 2003 when their Chinook transport helicopter was downed outside Fallujah, 50km west of Baghdad. In a tribute to the fallen soldiers, on 06 November 2003 the men prayed and cried as taps rang out in a ceremony, while an American flag fluttered and 15 helmets hung from posts.


al-Asad Air Traffic Control Tower

According to an Oct. 3, 2004 Marine Corps story, in a ceremonial "manning of the rails," Det. C, Marine Aircraft Control Squadron 1, MWSG 38, 3rd MAW, transferred their operations to the Iraqi air traffic control tower at al-Asad on Sept. 30, 2004. Measuring 150 feet tall, the Iraqi tower is more than twice the size of the expeditionary tower, which the unit had been operating in since arriving there in March 2004. The permanent Iraqi tower has numerous advantages over the more austere expeditionary tower, including increased visibility. Prior to that, the unit had been using an AN/TSQ-120 ATC tower, which would, as a result, be used for backup operations. Because the Iraqi tower had not been utilized or maintained for an extended period of time, it wasn't easy for MACS-1 to get it ready for use, with preparation work on the tower taking three months.

The Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 23 reconstruced over thirty bomb craters between October 2004 and March 2005. The project included excavating the old joints in the runway that were cracking, chipping and separating after years of wear and tear. This included numerous daily convoys into the desert to retrieve materials from quarry sites. Pouring new concrete will give jet aircraft a smooth surface for landings and take-offs and could reduce aircraft maintenance. During a six week period from November to December 2004, the Naval Mobile Construction Batallion completed nineteen of the crater repairs by working twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. At the end of March 2005, the Naval Mobile Construction Batallion 24 took over the project, completing the remainder of the thirty bomb craters.

In early June 2005 marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 put the finishing touches on a two-month project to enhance the security of the airbase by expanding the perimeter fence. Engineers, welders, draftsmen, surveyors and heavy equipment operators began the mesa fence project in April 26, and since then worked through temperatures ranging in the triple digits and constant blowing dust to extend the perimeter of the airbase.

The fence line was pushed out to extend security. It provides a better vantage point for security towers. The squadron's drafters and surveyors scoped out the area and drew up the plan, which included three miles of fence, barbed wire and a bridge to cross the wadi between the base and the towering mesa. When the plans were finished, the squadron's engineers began the process of digging thousands of postholes, planting the fence posts, hanging the fence and tying the barbed wire.

Because the fence crossed through the wadi, or riverbed, that lies between the camp and the ridgeline, the squadron used their ingenuity to craft a non-standard field expedient bridge to reach guard towers around the perimeter. While drafters and surveyors measured the topography and drew up the plans, engineers laid a foundation complete with drainage, and the squadron's welders crafted the bridge from old steel concrete forms.

Soldiers at Al Asad are working very hard everyday to prevent mortar attacks. They employ a variety of means to find where the insurgents are going to firing mortars and rounds from. Focus is on conducting operations so they can kill or detain the insurgents who are doing these types of operations, with every means available. The use of ground forces to go out and deal with these insurgents who are firing mortars as well as indirect firing systems and also air power. These tactics are forcing insurgents are resorting to and relying more on indirect fire. That gives them the capability to use their from many kilometers away. Soldiers on Al Asad use pattern analysis, to determine where insurgents are going to fire from next.

The Coalition Commander has decided to bring in a coalition force at Al Asad, for a variety of countries to help the U.S. with the occupation. Soldiers from Uganda are at Al Asad, to guard facilities that are in the airbase itself. As of November 21, 2005 soldiers from Uganda guard the PX, gymnasium and other morale support activity buildings. The reasons that the troops from Uganda are there, is because it frees up the troops to task out in our own units like the 1/109th. For example, if these Soldiers from Uganda were not guarding these sights on the FOB the Soldiers from the 1/109th would have to use some resources for that objective.

Marine Corps aviation is upgrading the way it does business logistically on Al-Asad. As of December 2005, the Patriots of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26 were testing the Marine Aviation Logistics Support Program II pilot at Al Asad, Iraq. MALSP II will enable units to reduce the forward footprint and save money. Marine Aviation Logistics Support Program identifies exactly what is needed to bring soldiers into a combat environment, including spare aviation parts, support equipment, mobile facilities and personnel. MALSP II will help improve on the process using new concepts to be more efficient and effective. The MALSP II pilot is based on principles of AIRSpeed. AIRSpeed is a business management strategy that focuses on eliminating waste and constraints to maximize overall production and integrating a disciplined approach for improving business performance by reducing variation. The program essentially supports every type of aircraft in the Corps. The MALSP II pilot allows soldiers to be more effective with less. In MALSP II, the Patriots will stock a reduced amount of each line item, called a buffer, that is based on the amount of demand on a particular item during the time it takes to reliably replenish the item. The system is based on the forward operating base pulling what they need based on demand, as opposed to pushing allowances forward as the way business is currently conducted. Marine Aviation Logistics Support Program II is set up with a parent base, an Expeditionary Support Base and a forward operating base. The MALSP II pilot parent base is MALS-14 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. The ESB is MALS-26 at Al Asad and the FOB is MALS-26 detachment at Al Taqaddum, Iraq. In the future, the ESB could be based out of a combat environment, in a neighboring country or on a ship. The Patriots stock more than 19,000 parts to support aircraft in Iraq. MALSP II pilot started in April and focuses on 190 parts to test the concept. As of December, 2005, there was support the FOB at Al Taqaddum using the buffer concepts. Soldiers are able to access and manage critical information on the Web-based software, and to learn the stock posture Al Taqaddum and at Al Asad and act on deficiencies."  

Marines and soldiers at the outlying forward operating bases have another name for al-Asad -- "Camp Cupcake." It is a place where an oasis has served traders since the time of Abraham of the Bible. Al-Asad is thought of as luxurious compared with most other bases in Iraq. New housing, called "can cities," are springing up all over Al Asad. Metal trailers linked together provide one or two soldiers with 10-foot by 20-foot living areas. Latrines have running water and porcelain commodes in the can cities, not portapotties. Showers are spotless, just the place to refresh after an "abs" session with the on-base trainer. A theater shows movies day and night.

Soldiers, Marines, Air Force personnel and sailors can do laps in the indoor swimming pool. The large PX faces competition from nearly a dozen Iraqi merchants, who are licensed to sell everything from local crafts and rugs to Cuban cigars and pirated DVDs.

The living conditions at Al Asad have been very good, with daily showers and air conditioning reported. The food and gym facilities have been reported as being excellent and, as from February 2006, Al Asad has had a telephone center and Internet caf (albeit with a lengthy wait).

Navea Training Center (Al Asad)

The third class of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps graduated from training at the Navea Training Center, Iraq, 11 Nov 2003. The new class of about 170 Iraqis was then tasked with defending much of Iraq's infrastructure facilities, such as power plants and pipelines. The week long training course required the Corpsmen to complete physical training each day and train on a variety of skills including first aid, guard duty, recognizing and responding to improvised explosive devices, search techniques and detention of personnel.


 

Imagery of the Al Sahra Airfield


Click on the small image to view a larger version


Overview of the Middle East with Iraq in the center

CIA Map of Iraq

Tactical Pilotage Chart of the Al Asad Airfield

Russian 1:200,000 scale map of Al Asad Airfield as of 1985.

CIB overview Al Asad Airfield as of 1995. The main base is protected by 21 kilometers of security perimeter. The weapon storage area to the Northeast occupies 3 square kilometers.

Al Asad is served by two main runways measuring 14,000 and 13,000 feet respectively and at least alternate runways. Hardened aircraft shelters knowns as "trapezoids" or "Yugos" were build by Yugoslavian contractors some time prior to 1985.

Al Asad is also served by dispersed aircraft shelters North of the main runways. At 10 meter GSD (ground sample distance), the number of revetments cannot be determined, nor whether each has a hardened shelter.

Al Asad is served by at least one weapons storage area (WSA). The number of munition storage igloos cannot be determined at 10 meter GSD.

These hardened aircraft shelters known as "trapezoid" or "yugos" were built by Yugoslavian contractors prior to 1985. Situated at the end of each runway, the offer aircraft on strip alert, quick access to the runway.

These hardened aircraft shelters known as "trapezoid" or "yugos" were built by Yugoslavian contractors prior to 1985. Situated at the end of each runway, the offer aircraft on strip alert, quick access to the runway.



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