Ankara Support Element
The 16th AF War Support System was established to help make the quick transition from peace time to a war-fighting posture. A 16th AF War Support Center and Mission Support Center at Aviano AB and Ankara Air Station, Turkey, were established in 1988 to help coordinate and plan the command's wartime missions with NATO officials.
When Ankara Air Station closed in 1994, it became the Ankara Support Element. The military community dropped from a peak of 5,000 in the late 1970s to about 550 in 2001, including Marine guards, ODC officials and US Embassy personnel. The Turkish government has moved into 82 per cent of the base, while the Americans retained the other 18 per cent to house a school and its facilities and a few other buildings.
Ankara Support Element is three miles from the center of Ankara, in a section of the city called Balgat. It is located on a portion of a former U.S. Air Force installation, the Ankara Air Station. The elementary and high school are housed in separate wings of the same structure, with the media center, administrative offices, supply, counseling center, and multipurpose room located in between them. There are classrooms, a nurse's office, a speech room and a learning disabilities room in the elementary wing. The high school wing houses general classrooms, science labs, a computer room, a business lab, an art room, and an industrial technology room. A gymnasium is in a separate building next to the school. The school has a new track and soccer field. About one-third of the student body are not U.S. citizens, with students coming from many different nations.
As the school is not part of an active military base, there are no university educational facilities. There is no commissary or BX available. However, a very small CX (combining a limited list of commissary and BX items) is built into the school. Items can be ordered from the Incirlik Air Base commissary and BX. Limited services are available from the American Embassy located in downtown Ankara, such as a personal check cashing service, a video club, and gasoline sales. In addition, gasoline coupons can be used at a few Petrol Ofisi stations in Ankara. Individuals locate their own Turkish doctors, dentists, and hospitals to get medical treatment. The U.S. Embassy provides a list of medical specialists who speak English. A U.S. Air Force hospital with Air Force doctors is available at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, 250 miles southeast of Ankara. There is limited U.S. postal window service, but mail is sent out and received daily.
Ankara, the capital of Turkey, has a population of approximately 5,000,000. It is located near the center of the Anatolian Plateau at an altitude of 2,600 feet. It lies about 250 miles southeast of Istanbul and 380 miles east of Izmir.
Ankara is a large, bustling city with many modern stores. The famed Ulus area offers the old style shops, which sell everything from basic tools and foods to antiques and carpets. There is a diverse selection of restaurants, running the gamut from the very luxurious to inexpensive corner establishments. The National Ballet and Opera offers excellent performances at bargain prices, and the State Orchestra presents many fine concerts. There are several museums, and current movies can be seen in English. Membership is available at the Turkish American Association, where one can learn about the language and culture of Turkey, and in ARIT, an organization which supports archaeological projects in Turkey and provides archaeological lectures, along with trips to important sites.
The climate is dry, with pleasant, sunny summers and a long, chilly winter. School is canceled once a year, on average, due to snow days. The snows are not frequent, and, generally, not heavy. Winter pollution in Ankara is extensive, and many persons purchase air cleaning appliances. Persons with respiratory problems may experience difficulty. Traffic congestion is a growing problem in Ankara. Apart from this, living conditions are quite good, except for the occasional electricity and water outages.
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