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Qayyarah Airfield West / Saddam Airbase

Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq, a U.S. base since 2003, was turned over from the U.S. Armys 15th Sustainment Brigade,13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), to the Iraqi Air Force in July 2010 as part of the upcoming responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq. According to Iraqi Air ForceCol. Nuhad Natik, assigned to become the base commander after turnover, the Iraqi Air Force planned for COB Q-West to be fully equipped with three squadrons, including new helicopters and multiple F-16 Fighting Falcons by 2011.

Qayyarah Airfield West is located in northern Iraq approximately 300 kilometers North of Baghdad and 16 kilometers West of the Tigris River. The airfield is served by two main runways measuring 11,500 and 11,800 feet. The airfield has at least 33 dispersed hardened aircraft shelters and once housed MiG 25s and 27s and M-1 Mirage fighters.

Qayyarah West is protected by a 20 kilometers security perimeter. Within the perimeter, vegetation growth highlights draw attention to the base. Vegetation planted to obscure the base from ground observation has the opposite effect when viewed from overhead.

There are two Weapon Storage Areas (WSA) located 10 and 12 kilometers to the North that are probably associated with Qayyarah West. WSA 1 has 30 munition storage igloos and is 1640 acres in size. WSA 2 has 42 munition storage igloos and is 800 acres in size. It is not known whether these storage areas were built after Operation Desert Storm or whether they were struck during Operation Desert Fox.

FOB Q-West / OBJ Jaguar

The Qayyarah West airfield or "Key West" as troops call it (Q-West, the name is too long) where the headquarters element of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division with roughly 150 people stay defines the word "austere." Looking out from the sidewalks of the main headquarters compound on a glaring Saturday morning, there is nothing but dirt piles and broken concrete revetments as far as the eye can see. Soldiers here use Army standard burn-out latrines. Human waste goes into barrels, which are filled with gasoline and burned every evening, filling the air with an unmistakable aroma. There are usually two hot meals served daily, breakfast and dinner. Lunch is Meals, Ready to Eat. Occasionally breakfast does not materialize.

The main runway, which had 32 major craters when the US troops arrived May 28, and the control tower are about two miles away from the headquarters compound. One of the first priorities was to repair the runway and tower, and the airfield is now in good enough shape to accept the Air Force's largest transport. After 69 days of around-the-clock work, the soldiers of the 37th Engineer Battalion, out of Fort Bragg, N.C., repaired the craters that littered the main airstrip at QWest, impeding planes from landing there and establishing a more secure route for needed items. The airfield at Q-west has the potential to be a major supply point in the northern region of Iraq. The runway is capably of supporting a C-5 galaxy.

The craters were the result of precision bombing by American planes during both Gulf Wars. About 13 craters were gouged out of the 2.2-mile long main strip, and another 30 destroyed sur-rounding runways and lesser airstrips. Some of the craters reached 30 feet in depth, and 120 feet in diameter. Airfield damage repair is a long process, requiring much effort. Teams of four to five light equipment engineers tackled each main-strip hole. One hole, from start to finish, took seven to nine days to repair. Small teams work more efficiently. To repair the craters, crews first had to clean the upheaval around the parts of tarmac outside the crater affected by the blasts. Next, a survey team assesses the best soil to fill the craters. The filling has three levels. The first two layers are mostly debris blown out by the explosions. The third layer is crushed stone. This layer reaches up to one foot from the top of the blast crater. To top off the hole, a foot of reinforced cement is poured in until it reaches the rim. Heavy equipment is used in the repair process. The engineers used bucket loaders to shovel material into the craters, knobby steam rollers to compact the material, water distributors to ensure the material is compacted down correctly and evenly, and finally, smooth rollers to finish the job. Some of the craters still had unexploded ordnance in them. The mine awareness group disposed of 2,000 pound bombs at the bottom of the pits.

By July 2003 Qayyarah West Airfield, a former military air base about 30 miles south of Mosul in northern Iraq was the home of the 'Bastogne Bulldogs,' the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. Only a handful of the brigade's soldiers actually live here, however. Most of them are spread around the region, where they are tasked with missions such as local outreach and assistance, search and cordon, safety patrols and guard duty for important archaeological sites to prevent looting. The outlying troops live where they work, some in tents, others in makeshift quarters in existing buildings.

The days can be long and hard at Qayyarah West Airfield in Northern Iraq, full of dust and camel spiders. And what relaxes a person after a hot sweaty day better than a game of golf at the first golf course in Iraq? 1st Lt. Jesse White, shop officer, Bravo Company, 426th Forward Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), created the course in May. In an area full of waist-high dirt piles and holes big enough to fall into, White made a course 150 yards long, with just one hole. His idea was to have a place where he could relax and get in a few practice swings when possible. But one hole wasn't enough, soon other people wanted to play games there, and for that more holes would be needed. Soon two more holes were added to the makeshift course. Then, after less then a month three more holes were added, to make the course a total of six holes, ranging from 50 to 250 yards. It was there that construction halted, only because they ran out of room.

Charlie Company of the the 37th En Bn did all of the construction for the 1st BCT at Q-West. They started building the tropical huts and made great progress on the groundwork for the KBR trailers that were to go down there. They also finished up the new front gate and continued with the Ammo Holding Area (AHA). For the AHA they built up large berms to protect from any secondary explosions. They continued with the Oil Pipeline Firefighting and the picture of the week shows a couple of Pioneer dozers at one of the fires.

The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) celebrated Halloween 2003 with a 10K Race at the 1st Brigade main compound in Quyarrah. Some really got into the spirit, running every meter of the 10K race in full costume.

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) thwarted an attack on Iraqi Civil Defense Corps forces at Objective Jaguar near Qyyarah Oct. 12. 2003. Approximately 30 individuals traveling in 16 vehicles approached the perimeter of Objective Jaguar, a large ammunition storage point currently guarded by ICDC forces. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery engaged the enemy, who broke contact and fled the area. The 101st AD soldiers later detained three suspects and confiscated three AK-47s, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher, two RPG rounds, two 9mm pistols and a crate of AK-47 magazines. ICDC forces assumed protection responsibility of Objective Jaguar Oct. 1.

On 02 October 2003 coalition soldiers relinquished security and guarding responsibilities of Objective Jaguar, an ammo supply point, to the soldiers from Delta Company, part of the Iraq Civil Defense Corps in a relief in place. The ammo supply point that the Iraqis will guard is 12 square kilometers, and has been guarded by 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) for the last five months. The mission to secure the ammo supply point is important.it's larger then the city of Mosul. Besides Obj. Jaguar, the ICDC will secure the nearby Al Hatra hotel as well as 2,000 year-old ruins that are in the area.

In October 2003 an elite air assault school in the US military's 101st Airborne Division began operations in Iraq, its first foreign mission since the Vietnam War. The deployment was the latest in a series of moves in Washington signalling the US-led occupation of Iraq will be longer than anticipated. Not since the Vietnam War has the 101st uprooted the school and sent it abroad to train soldiers. The Sabalauski Air Assault School, usually based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, would train 2,000 students at a rate of 150 a week in launching ground assualts out of airborne helicopters.

The soldiers of the 101st Aviation Regiment fixed their focus on the little guys. The helicopter regiment, based at Qayyarah West Airfield with 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, conducted numerous community projects in the half-dozen villages surrounding the airfield with hopes of bringing positive, permanent changes to their living standards. The aviators started surfacing the dirt roads between the villages with rock and gravel in order to make them more serviceable. Road conditions commonly force drivers to drive out of the way in order to reach a main highway, and a common route takes drivers along the airfield's outer perimeter.

Schools in need of simple supplies and new windows, or even a complete renovation, received a helping hand from 101st Airborne Division CERP funds and nongovernmental organizations working with the soldiers. While early reviews are good on the multi-million dollar investment, the division has run into road bumps in the first week of school. One school in the town of Quyarrah, for example, was not holding classes five days after it was expected to open, despite a $2,500 grant to the faculty. When Capt. Kellie Rourke of Minneapolis, Minn., 101st Aviation Brigade, inspected the school 07 October 2003, she said she found it filthy -- nowhere near ready for lessons.

The Quyarrah Oil Refinery is now the largest employer in this town of roughly 30,000 people, south of Mosul. After its 1986 closing, four bombings during the Iran-Iraq war, 17 years of inactivity and $46,000 in Coalition-supported renovations, the factory came to life again once again. For nearly two decades, the managers of this oil refinery paid guards to protect the facility and its benzene and asphalt base stockpile that will now be used in production. The Oil Ministry in Baghdad had no interest in reopening the plant, but with support from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Col. Ben Hodges, the division's First Brigade commander, the refinery re-opened. In addition, the plant produces diesel fuel - a byproduct of the production process that will power the facility. In fact, there is no fuel line into the refinery. When the plant is operating correctly, it is self-sufficient.

An MWR on base houses an aerobics room, theater, basketball court, shuffle board and a wide variety of other recreational activities.

Q-West Home to the NCO Academy where Iraqi NCOs take part in the Primary Leadership Course which trains Iraqis to become successful non commissioned officers in the Iraqi army.

FOB Endurance

FOB Endurance is located at Qayyarah Airfield West, itself approximately 60 miles south of Mosul. It is another name for FOB Q-West.

The facility is surrounded by desert and no settlements are located near the base. As of November 2004, the facility's internet access was slow relative to that available Mosul Airbase and sometimes prone to not working. Phone access was reported to be limited. Mail deliveries were described as taking extra time because of the facility's remote location, but were running at about 3 per week, while outgoing mail was limited to one or two times per month.

A soldier-operated mini-PX opened on November 20, 2004, in room 116 of the bombed out palace. The mini-PX is to be supplied with stock from the main PX warehouse at Mosul Airbase. Other facilities at FOB Endurance include a dining facility, an MWR building with a theater. The base gym which, as of November 2004, was operated by KBR, offers a basketball court, along with access to free weights, exercise bicycles and treadmills.

On December 17, 2004, the 917th Corps Support Group took over the duties of the 167th Corps Support Group at FOB Endurance. The 2-8th Field Artillery was also stationed at the facility starting around November 2004. The 116th Rear Area Operations Center moved to FOB Endurance after Thanksgiving 2004 from Mosul AB.

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Page last modified: 10-01-2012 19:20:51 ZULU