Kandahar / Qandahar Airfield
Kandahar Airfield was originally a civilian air field. It had a beautiful terminal. The terminal was being refurbished in early 2005 with new glass in the windows and a new interior. The intent was that in a relatively short time, when those things were done, part of the airport would be open to civilian operations again. In addition to the terminal, which was an Afghan project, the Coalition did a complete renovation and rebuilding of the runway, so it would be used for civilian operations as well for many years to come.
There was no specific timetable because of 2 things: one, the refurbishment of the terminal itself, and two, the refurbishment of the runway so it could support civilian operations. The Coalition had been in discussions with Ariana about when would it be ready to come in. Ariana wanted part of the runway to be complete before they would start flying in their civilian aircraft. When Ariana was ready to start flying in there, the airfield would be open to civilian operations, assuming the terminal was ready to support that.
The Coalition expected there would be some type of Coalition or ISAF force for some time to come. It was a very strategic base for operations in the south. It was also an important base for the United Nations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent, and many non-governmental organizations that supported humanitarian assistance in the southern part of the country.
The intent was to separate the terminal and part of the airport to be solely for civilian operations. As time went on and security in the south got better, and the humanitarian assistance was not required to the levels it had been, the Coalition expected the footprint and facilities to continue to shrink, and more of the air field would be turned over to the government of Afghanistan for civilian operations.
On 22 December 2005 then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Bagram Airbase and Kandahar Airfield to wish the troops there a happy holidays. Rumsfeld also held a townhall meeting at Bagram awarded some aviators metals for valor and witnessed a reenlistment ceremony. Afterwards he made his to Kandahar Airfield to visit members of the 173rd Brigade (Airborne). His stops were part of a weeklong trip to visit servicemembers stationed overseas during the holidays.
On 11 August 2007, combined forces detained 2 males at a militant safe house during an operation west of Kandahar City. One detainee was suspected of being a Taliban commander and a key figure in an improvised-explosive-device operation. Troops processed the suspects at the Kandahar Airfield military detention facility, and they were being held for further questioning.
On 7 February 2008, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband visited troops at Kandahar Airfield to thank them for all they had done and sacrificed and to see firsthand some of the progress that had been made.
As of November 2008, plans were underway for a 25-100 million dollar expansion of the facilities used at Kandahar Airfield, in order to accomodate potentially more soldiers and equipment from Task Force ODIN or a similarly structured unit. The Proposal was for Design/Build Construction services for an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Ramp to be located at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. This ISR Ramp would provide operational support for up to 26 generic ISR aircraft with shelters at Kandahar Airfield. This work would include aircraft pavements and facilities, including concrete aprons and taxiway, a perimeter security fence, 2 aircraft fabric sunshades, vehicle access and parking and 11 fabric shelters. The concrete would be designed to support medium load aircraft. The airfield pavements with paved shoulders, pavement marking, and edge lighting were to be constructed as required. As of 10 November 2008 no funds had been alocated for the construction of the project, but they were expected to come from reprogrammed projects pending approval from the US House and Senate's armed services and appropriations committees. All bids for the project were tentatively expected by 12 December 2008 with the contract winner expected to be announced on 15 January 2009. The winner was expected to complete the project within 270 days of the start date.
Task Force ODIN's aircraft were primarly civilian aircraft like the Beech C-12 and unmanned aircraft systems, loaded with sensors and communication gear used to coordinate ground forces and close air support as well as detect potential IED's buried along a road. The expansion of Task Force ODIN's mandate in Afghanistan and the upgrading of their facilities was believed to be related to an increase in the number of roadside bombings in Afghanistan and the reconstruction of the Ring Road. The Ring Road was a 2,000 mile stretch of highway linking all the major cities in Afghanistan.
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