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Taif Air Base
Taif, Saudi Arabia
2129'00"N 4032'40"E

Taif is located in the central foothills of the western mountains of Saudi Arabia. Its altitudes of 4,800 feet gives Taif one of the most pleasant climates in the Kingdom. Temperatures are comparable to Phoenix, but without the high heat of summer. It does cool down at night and in the winter. Taif is not a big city, but most of the essentials of life can be bought in the local souqs, or markets. Jeddah is only a two hour drive away.

The United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a joint training mission under the command of Headquarters, United States Central Command, (USCENTCOM) MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The Chief of USMTM also serves as the United States Department of Defense Representative for Saudi Arabia. The USMTM Air Force Division has supporting detachments at Taif, Dhahran, Khamis Mushayt, and Jeddah. Personnel work directly with their RSAF Headquarters counterparts on all logistics, operational, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) issues. In addition, E3A/KE-3A Extended Training Service Specialists (ETSS) personnel provide training and assistance to the RSAF in a variety of flying operations out of Riyadh Air Base. F-15 operations are supported by US Air Force personnel at Dhahran and Khamis Mushayt. RF-5 operations are supported at Taif, while C-130 operations are supported at Jeddah and Riyadh. Detachment Commanders (DETCO) serve as advisors to Saudi Air Base Area Chiefs and supervise ETSS personnel in the area.

The United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) Advisory Detachment located in Taif, Saudi Arabia, is responsible for providing advisors for key flag officers who oversee regional Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) and Royal Saudi Air Forces (RSAF). In addition, the detachment is responsible for the protection, morale and welfare, and general supervision of permanent-party Department of Defense (DoD) Personnel stationed in the Taif area.

The detachment commander is the senior permanent party US military representative in the local area. He acts as an advisor to the Ministry of Defense and Aviation (MODA) Area Commander and the King Fahad Air Base/Western Sector (Air Defense) Commander, as well as participating as a mission-ready F-15C instructor pilot in the RSAF 5th Flying Squadron. All noncombatant DoD programs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia fall under the sponsorship of Chief, USMTM. As such, the detachment provides umbrella leadership to personnel from a variety of US military organizations located in Taif: US Army Corps of Engineers Ordinance Program Division (OPD); Warner-Robins Air Logistics Center/Operating Location Taif (OC/OLT); Defense Contract Management Division International (DCMDI); and Air Post Office (APO). In addition, the detachment provides local area leadership and support to US Army Office of Program Management/Saudi Arabian National Guard (OPM/SANG) TDY personnel, on a weekly basis.

The mission of USMTM Advisory Detachment, Taif, and the other DoD organization, is to advise and assist local Saudi Military Forces through security assistance efforts to develop, train, and sustain a capable deterrent and self defense force to facilitate regional security, and when needed, expedite activation of CENTCOM, Saudi Arabia. Assistance is being provided to the RSAF $9 billion Peace Sun Nine (F-15S) program, $3.5 billion Peace Shield Kingdom-wide C2 air defense system) program, the RSLF Ordinance Corps Center and School (TOCC&S), and several SANG brigades.

Permanent Party DoD organizational offices, including the USMTM detachment, are located at the Eid Compound. DoD personnel live at either the Al-Gaim Compound or, to a limited extent, at the Eid Compound. Both compounds are located in a suburb area of Taif near Saudi military installations. The USMTM Taif Detachment hosts a variety of TDY personnel traveling "down-range" by providing vehicle, lodging, security, and local-area orientation support.

All assigned USAF personnel and their dependents reside at "Al-Gaim" Compound. The compound contains approximately 200 Westerners working for companies such as McDonnell Douglas and Pratt & Whitney. Housing is close to western standards and consists of two, three, and four bedroom homes. They are fully furnished and carpeted. All of the homes come completely equipped with color TV, microwave, dishwasher, washer and dryer, dishes, silverware, glasses and 110V American standard electricity. The compound boasts a four lane bowling alley, Olympic sized swimming pool, closed circuit TV (6 channels) softball field, racquetball, tennis and basketball courts. Al-Gaim is located about twenty minutes from KFDAB and is near the USMTM Offices.

Western food stuffs are obtained, by order, through the US Military commissary in Riyadh and delivered weekly by truck. Local supermarkets also have a good selection and are readily available, but they can be somewhat expensive. Al-Gaim residents and their dependents may also use the dining hall and the snack bar located on the compound. Medical care is provided by the Al-Hada Hospital and Rehabilitation Center (a Saudi military hospital staffed mostly by Westerns), Prince Sultan Hospital on KFDAB, and through the Al-Gaim dispensary. Full emergency hospitalization and dental care are also available at the Al-Hada Hospital. RSAF hired Flight Surgeon support is available at the Prince Sultan Hospital and USAF Flight Surgeon support is available at the Prince Sultan Hospital and USAF from Riyadh.

The Saudi National Guard Omar bin Kattab Brigade (OKB) is stationed in Taif. A Light Infantry Brigade of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, the brigade consists of four line battalions. Major weapons systems include Cal 50 machine guns, 84mm and 106mm recoilless rifles, and 81mm mortars.

The Office of the Program Manager Saudi Arabian National Guard [OPM-SANG] mission is to manage the SANG Modernization Program under the terms of the 1973 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Saudi Arabian governments. Office and housing accommodations are provided by contract with EID Corporation. The compound is located 3.5 kilometers from the brigade cantonment area. A swimming pool, recreation facility (including a physical conditioning center), and basketball/tennis courts are available on the compound. Additionally, facilities are available at the Al-Gaim Compound (located 10 minutes from EID Housing Compound), including an excellent cafeteria, a fully-equipped gymnasium and a large shoppette.

An old city, Taif is used as the summer capital of the Kingdom, and is still very traditional in its views and way of life. Taif is not a big city, but most of the essentials of life can be bought in the local "souks" or stores. Jeddah, located on the Red Sea, is a modern city of 1 million people and is only a two-hour drive away. Anything not available in Taif can be found in the "Western" malls and shops of Jeddah.

Taif is located in the Western Sector of Saudi Arabia, near the summit of the mountain range known as the Hejaz. The city of Taif is situated 1700 meters above the Red Sea, between granite hills rising from the eastern slope of the Hejaz and the Asir or the "escarpment" leading to Jeddah 150 kilometers to the west. The location of Taif is at the point where routes from the south intersect those from east and west, and its proximity to Makkah, its hilly terrain, its green landscape, and favorable climate are the main reasons for the city's historical importance. Administratively, Taif is a sub-unit of the Amirate of Makkah, whose headquarters are in the Holy City and is the main urban center of the Taif Amirate, which extends over an area of 18,000 square kilometers and supports a population of 450,000.

The main attractions include the souq, which is considered the most authentic in the Hejaz. In many alleyways lined with shops, the casual shopper can find carpets, tents, traditional embroidered dresses, hand-crafted jewelry, spices, and Bedouin handicrafts. The towns and villages surrounding Taif are inviting, but Al Shafa and Hadda particularly deserve visiting. Dramatic views, the variety of flora and fauna, and the cool crisp climate make these hill stations an attractive treat. Forty kilometers east of Taif in Wadi Layyah, the bedouin people conduct camel races hosted by the Saudi National Guard every July and August.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:57:17 ZULU