Bagram Air Base
2001: The Battle for Bagram
As of 07 October 2001, Taliban forces were positioned roughly one to two miles away and have a variety of assets in the area including three tanks and roughly 5,000 troops.
Control of the base was contested between the two forces, with the Northern Alliance controlling one end of the airfield while the Taliban controls the other. Possession of the airfield is difficult to determine. The Taliban may have had physical possession of the airfield, and were surely within artillery and mortar range denying possession of this stragetic facility to the Northern Alliance. It was clear that the two forces had been actively contesting the airbase since 1999, with the airfield changing hands several times since. Press reports indicated that a Northern Alliance general was using the bombed-out control tower as an observation post and as a location to brief journalists, his headquarters was nearby.
Reports also indicated that Northern Alliance rocket attacks on Kabul had been staged from Bagram. If true this might indicate that the Northern Alliance forces were in possession of Russian-made FROG-7 Rockest with a range of 70 kilometers.
According to news reports, Taliban attacks on the airbase included morter attacks and airstrikes using cluster bombs.
2001-2002: Use of Bagram Airbase by Allied Forces
By early December 2001 troops from the 10th Mountain Division shared the base with Special Operations Command officers from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida and soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg. As of mid-December 2001 more than 300 American troops, mainly with the 10th Mountain Division, were providing force protection at Bagram. The troops patroled the base perimeter, guarded the front gate, and cleared the runway of explosive ordnance. As of early January 2002 the number of 10th Mountain Division troops had grown to about 400 soldiers.
As of early January 2002 the planned arrival of some 4,500-troop international peacekeeping troops had been delayed, because American troops had priority use of Bagram airfield for offensive operations.
As of late January 2002, there were somewhat over 4,000 US troops in Afghanistan, of which about 3,000 were at Kandahar airport, and about 500 were stationed at the air base in Bagram.
As of mid-March 2002 American heavy construction equipment was employed at Bagram erecting steel frames for new shelters and building earth-filled security barriers. American C-17 transport aircraft were arriving every few hours, and as many as 50 helicopters, including CH-47 Chinooks, AH-64 Apaches, AH-1 Cobras, and UH-60 Black Hawks were visible on the taxiways.
As of mid-June 2002, Bagram Air Base was serving as home to more than 7,000 U.S. and multinational armed services working together in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Numerous tent areas house the troops based there, including one named Viper City.
As of late June 2002, Italian Air Force troops, assisted by Polish and U.S. military engineers, had been working together to repair the runway by fixing holes there.
The main supply route (MSR) at Bagram was officially renamed on 30 April 2002, "Disney Drive" in memory of Spc. Jason A. Disney, a certified welder with the 58th Maintenance Company, out of 1st Corps Support Command, and part of Task Force Warrior, who died at Bagram on Feb. 13 in an industrial accident.
As of late June 2002, the base now had dining facilities serving hot meals, showers, a post exchange, laundry service, a gym, morale welfare and recreation tents, and a phone tent. Housing facilities were also being improved with local Afghan construction workers on post building tent frames that sit above the ground. The frames offer a level floor that allows the tents to drain properly when the rainy season comes, and thus adding stability to the tents. Selection at the PX had also improved to the point that it had coolers, food and movies, and offered a selection of candy, cold soda, compact disks, DVDs, personal hygiene items and post cards for sale, among other things.
In August 2002 the 200th/201st Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron arrived at Bagram to construct housing facilities for Air Force personnel and to repair the airfields runways. Environmental conditions, bombs, small munitions and lack of care and maintenance have contributed to significant runway damage. Only one side of the 180-foot-wide runway here is being used while Red Horse repairs the other side. It is not uncommon to conduct rapid repair patches on the active runway because of heavy aircraft and high operations tempo.
Runway repair was a Herculean effort, and when all is said and done, approximately 2,500 cubic yards of concrete were used. There are roughly 12,000 11 by 13 foot slabs that make up the runway. Each slab takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to repair. The RED HORSE squadron will be repairing some 500 slabs.
As of late September 2002, tents were still being constructed and built up in the Coalition Task Force 82nd ABN Division Compound at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The tents are to house soldiers working and living in the compound area and tents were scheduled to be finished and moved in before the winter season rolled around. The constructing and building of the tents are part of ongoing projects at Bagram Airfield designed to better the conditions for soldiers deployed there.
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