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Samarra East Airbase / Al Bakr Airfield

Samarra East Airbase is located in Northern Iraq approximately 96 kilometers North of Baghdad, and about 12 kilometers Northeaast of the Tigris river. The airbase is served by a single 9,800 foot long runway. Samarra East occupies a 18 square kilometer site and is protected by a 18 kilometers security perimeter. According to the "Gulf War Air Power Survey, there were 12 hardened aircraft shelters at Samarra East as of 1991. At the each end of the main runway are hardened aircraft shelters knowns as "trapezoids" or "Yugos" which were build by Yugoslavian contractors some time prior to 1985.

FOB Pacesetter / Camp Pacesetter
FOB McKenzie

By July 2003 units of the 64th Military Police Company, stationed at at Samarra East Airfield, continued to provide security in the assigned areas for 3/29 FA Battalion in Ad Duluiyah (2nd , 3rd and 4th Platoons) and north of Tikrit for the 4th BCT, 4ID (1 st Platoon). As they continue to make improvements to their living areas, the most notable addition for the soldiers both young and old has been the PlayStation2 that found its way into the company area. Several tournaments later, the soldiers remain friends despite the occasional dispute over how one beat the other. With fans, generators and more air conditioners said to be on the way, the soldiers will greatly appreciate them as the mercury tops well over 115 degrees on a regular basis these days. The jet hanger that houses some of the HQs along with 2nd , 3rd and 4th platoons does well to protect against bullets and mortars, but does little to combat the heat and sand that are ever-present in this region. The soldiers attempt to keep cool with cool water from freezers and refrigerators as well as the daily supply of ice from a local vendor. The addition of two microwaves to the company has broadened the meal prospects and family members were encouraged to send micro-waveables for the soldiers to break up the routine of MREs. The location is more austere with one hot meal, either breakfast or dinner, each day and an adequate supply of water for drinking, bathing, etc. Despite all of these hardships, the morale is as high as everyone wonders when they are all getting on the freedom bird.

The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (SBCT) completed its move from Kuwait to Forward Operating Base Pacesetter by 10 December 2003. The base is located about six miles northeast of this city of about 50,000 people and 60 miles north of Baghdad. It doesn't take much rain to turn the base camp into a muddy bog. But just a little of water is enough to put 10 times that much mud on every soldier's boots.

In December 2003, infantrymen from 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, took to the roads and villages north of Baghdad, patrolling to keep the peace from Forward Operating Base Pacesetter. Soldiers of Battle Company, 5th Battalion - 20 Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) conduct route reconnaissance, presence patrol, civilian assessment and combat operations contributing to the stability of Samarra, Iraq. The 3rd Brigade is under the operational control of the 4th Infantry Division.

FOB McKenzie is the new name for what was formerly known as FOB Pacesetter. With the transfer of authority came a new name for the base. Under 3-29 FA's leadership, the Forward Operating Base had been Pacesetter, the battalion's symbol and call sign. Under 1-4 CAV's command it is MacKenzie Base, named for Ronal S. MacKenzie, a cavalry colonel in the Frontier Campaigns. Col. MacKenzie, at 29 the commander of the 4th Cavalry Regiment, was charged with keeping the peace on the frontier, and preventing attacks and violence by outlaws and renegade Indians. He did so with well-planned reconnaissance and daring attacks. The re-naming of the Base reflects the parallels between Operation Iraqi Freedom and COL MacKenzie's mission to bring peace and justice to a new nation by putting a stop to the violence of insurgents and terrorists.

As of September 2004 there was one shower for every 24 people. One of the bunkers was transformed into a Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility, with a movie theater, performance stage, library, and Internet and phone room, among other amenities.

Mckenzie has faced periods of almost nightly rocket and mortar attacks. The base has seen 21 rockets incoming at McKenzie in a single night.

Imagery of Samarra East Airbase
Click on the small image to view a larger version

Overview of the Middle East with Iraq in the center

CIA Map of Iraq

Tactical Pilotage Chart of Samarra East Airbase

Russian 1:200,000 scale map of Samarra East Airbase as of 1985.

CIB overview Samarra East Airbase as of 1995.

Samarra East served by a single runway measuring 9,800 feet.

Camp Pacesetter - 2003

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:50:27 ZULU