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Mihail Kogalniceanu (MK) Air Base, Romania

Romania agreed 19 October 2013 to allow the U.S. military to use an airbase near the Black Sea as a key logistics hub for getting supplies and troops into and out of Afghanistan. Pentagon officials said the agreement reached Friday will allow them to move their operations away from Kyrgyzstan, where lawmakers had voted not to renew the US lease at Manas airbase beyond July 2014. The United States is working on pulling out most of its combat forces and equipment from Afghanistan by the end of next year. Washington, however, hoped to keep a few thousand troops in Afghanistan after next year's deadline, but has yet to forge an agreement with the government in Kabul.

When Turkey decided against involvement in the Iraqi war, the Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport [just north of Constanta, Romania] became a major route for refueling and supply of United States troops in Iraq and neighboring countries. Romania officials said that up to 3,000 American soldiers could operate there at a time. American troops used a closed airport near Burgas, Bulgaria [on the Black Sea], for communications and logistics, as they also did during the Afghan operation in 2001.

The Mihail Kogalniceanu (MK) Air Base, Romania [MK Air Base] is located in a region of Romania called Dobrogea, which is the land between the Danube River to the west and the Black Sea to the east. The base is located approximately 15 miles from downtown Constanta, Romania's largest port and second largest city. Conditions on MK Air Base are austere, and accommodations for individuals with disabilities must be evaluated on a case by-case basis.

Members of the 621st Contingency Response Wing from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., arrived 09 May 2011 to extend the airfield's capability to support "multi-modal operations" during a U.S. Transportation Command proof-of-principle evaluation. USTRANSCOM applies the term "multi-modal" to the movement of passengers and cargo by more than one mode of transportation. In this case, the evaluation is intended to demonstrate the feasibility of using the air base as a hub for equipment flowing into and out of Afghanistan. The evaluation process begins with the basing of four C-17 Globemaster III's temporarily deployed from another base in the region that is closed for routine runway repairs.

The goal was to determine if MK was a viable multi-modal airport that can support moving personnel and equipment to and from the U.S. Central Command's theater. The main role while here in Romania will be to facilitate the trans-load of cargo from aircraft to ground and sea shipment systems. The 621st CRW is one of only two contingency response wings in the Air Force and is prepared to deploy at a moment's notice. The CRWs combine unique skill sets with the ability to tailor teams of mobility Airmen to carry out a variety of missions ranging from humanitarian assistance to air base opening. In this case, the mission required a team of experts knowledgeable in setting up an airbase and conducting air mobility operations.

Approximately 50 Airmen assigned to the CRE started processing aircraft the moment they arrived and prepared the airfield for follow-on personnel. One of the great advantages of CR forces is that they can arrive on station and immediately start to receive aircraft," said Colonel Wingfield "We had an inbound aircraft about an hour after we arrived so we went to work straight away integrating with the host base to get the planes off-loaded and aerial port operations established."

The team deployed with air mobility personnel specializing in air transportation, command and control, communications, maintenance, and airfield operations. The team is made up of Airmen who are skilled in their particular career fields but who are also contingency response experts," said Maj. Matthew Schnell, CRE director of operations. "We train in various disciplines in order to augment each other and increase cross-functionality so we are ready when a mission like this is tasked. The CRE expected to process aircraft each day loaded with cargo and personnel essential to Operation Enduring Freedom. American forces from bases in the U.S. and overseas will join the CRE over the next week to continue with the evaluation. According to USTRANSCOM, if the test does not reveal any major problems, the program here could become permanent and potentially expand to make MK a major logistics hub for the U.S. and its allies.

All tours to Romania are unaccompanied, with frequent TDY to Bulgaria. Civilians are allowed to ship 350 pounds of unaccompanied baggage. During training exercises, you may be required to work overtime and rotating shifts. Assignments in Romania are projected to last 18 months. Following completion of the overseas tour, personnel may be eligible to exercise return rights to their previous position or enroll in the Priority Placement Program (PPP). Through the PPP, personnel may be placed in a permanent DoD position in CONUS. Privately Owned Vehicles (POVs) may be authorized in Romania. Transporting the POV to Romania is the responsibility of the owner.

Government-Leased Housing is provided in the nearby city of Constanta at no cost. Apartments are fully furnished and air-conditioned. Employees have private bedrooms and bathrooms but may be required to share common living areas. Living Quarters Allowance (LQA) is not authorized. Dining Facility (DFAC) on MK Air Base provides three hot meals a day at the standard DFAC rates for Army civilians. Laundry services are available on MK Air Base at no cost. AAFES operates a Shoppette and Barber Shop on MK Air Base. The Shoppette carries a limited selection of electronics, books, entertainment, hygiene items, snacks, and beverages. There are no Commissary or BX/PX facilities. Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) provides a variety of quality of life services. Gym facilities include a good selection of workout equipment. Other facilities house pool tables and arcade games. MWR organizes trips, sports, entertainment nights, and holiday events. Medical and Dental Care is available through host nation facilities on the economy. Local public transportation is available for travel between Constanta and MK Air Base.

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