US military bases in Afghanistan
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US military bases in Afghanistan. Map of the Afghanistan with military bases of the United States
9 U.S. Base(s)
2014 agreement allows U.S. troops to remain at Bagram Air Base and 8 more major installations through 2024.
Bagram Air Base in Parvan Province, Afghanistan US Military Bases in Afghanistan
Bagram Air Base is operated jointly by the United States Army and Air Force. Occupying forces include the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Coalition Forces and civilians complete the constitution of the base.
Bagram airfield was used by Soviet troops between 1979 and 1989. Between 1999 and 2001, the Taliban and the Northern Alliance struggled for control of the base, but it was finally secured by British Special Forces at the time of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. In December 2001, the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army camped on the field. Since then, the base has grown and expanded its mission.
There have been constant improvements in the living quarters for troops. The tents are gone, and the over-crowded B-huts are continually been replaced by permanent, more comfortable accommodations.
The Craig Joint Theater Hospital provides excellent care to U.S. service members and coalition forces. It is fitted with technologically-advanced medical equipment. The facility has 50 beds, a trauma bay, three operating theaters and a modern dental clinic.
Education & Communication
There are opportunities for those who wish to continue their education online. Internet connectivity is provided and maintained by airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Communication Squadron Network Control Center.
The connectivity makes it easy for troops to keep in touch with friends and family back home: Telephones, Skype and emails all improve the quality of life for everyone. This is especially great for deployed parents. They are able to maintain daily contact with their children.
No direct hiring is conducted on the base. Civilian workers are employed abroad and brought in by contractors. There are also some Red Cross employees, and local nationals are hired for building projects that use locally-sourced materials.
Dining / Shopping / Recreational Facilities
There are numerous dining facilities. Troops and civilians now also have other dining options that include Burger King, Popeyes, pizzerias, a Thai restaurant, Dairy Queen and coffee shops.
The base has two exchanges, and other shops house local vendors that sell a variety of products.
There are air-conditioned fitness centers for working-out. Additionally, a recreation room, a library and a post office have been constructed by airmen that volunteered their time to the projects.
The United Service Organizations maintains a presence in the Pat Tillman USO Center. It is named for the former NFL player. He was killed by friendly fire while on active duty. The NFL funded the construction of the center.
The center is right next to the Bagram airport. It provides a welcoming place for incoming troops, as well as a comfortable lounge for those waiting to depart. The two-story center has video game stations, large-screen televisions and telephones. Drinks and snacks are available from the cafe.
The Hindu Kush mountain range creates a severe climate that varies between arid and semi-arid, but weather conditions and temperatures can fluctuate widely in any one day. Precipitation is most likely between the months of October and April. Dust storms and sand storms occur frequently during certain times of the year.
Summer temperatures can reach as high of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter temperatures can get as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bagram Air Base continues to undergo improvements and expansion. Even though it is in a combat zone, the base is actually a safe environment.
Kandahar International Airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan US Military Bases in Afghanistan
Kandahar International Airport, Afghanistan is 16 km from Kandahar City, in the southern side of the country. It is one of the largest airports of Afghanistan. Until 2006, it was operated by the United States of America. It was taken over under the NATO administration since then. Due to the multiple damage encountered in the past, it had to go through a wide variety of improvements and repair operations in 2007. It was almost entirely rebuilt. These days, it is used for both civilian flights and military flights. Aside from the United States of America and the NATO forces, the International Security Assistance Force dispatched troops from more countries in the area.
The airport is said to be a pain among the pilots. Over the day, landing here is extremely complicated. The pilots have a hard time identifying the airport because its colors are similar to the sand around it. At the same time, the area is very dusty, so locating it from the sky brings in a lot of trouble. During the night, things are different. The airport is actively lit and can easily be spotted, especially since it is not surrounded by any human communities. It is the only light in the area.
Kandahar International Airport was built between 1956 and 1962, in an attempt of the Untied States of America to get ready for a potential war with the Soviet Union. At the same time, the Soviet Union was building a different airport in Kabul, in the northern part of the country. The USA were supposed to get a military base here as well, not to mention about the original purpose of the airport as a “pit stop”. However, with the improvements in the jet aircrafts, the airport was no longer needed, therefore it was rarely used.
During the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, the airport was still in place and used by the USSR forces. Aside from the airstrip, the buildings remained intact, which is quite important considering the intense fighting in this part of Afghanistan.
During its Taliban times, the airport was used in a peaceful way. The Talibans never caused any problems in the area due to the peaceful times their country was going through. The airport was used for humanitarian operations and supported the UN and Red Cross flights, as well as a few civilian flights. It did see a sad moment in 1999, when some terrorists hijacked an Indian plane and demanded the release of three terrorists in exchange of the passengers. The deal is not entirely known, but the terrorists were released by the Indian government.
The housing system at Kandahar International Airport is supported for the individuals dispatched here to work. Since the area is not really surrounded by a city and the country is still not very secure, all the inhabitants are hosted on site. The system is run by the NATO. Purchasing a permanent home here is not that easy, considering the fact that most troops are dispatched here temporarily.
Shindand Air Base Herat Province, Afghanistan US Military Bases in Afghanistan
Shindand Airbase is located in southwest Afghanistan less than 75 miles from the Iranian border. The nearest town is seven miles away at Sabzwar City in the Harat Providence. The base is a co-base which means that it is shared operations between the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. It is a remote assignment in a battle zone and no dependents are authorized. The only personnel on the airbase are military personnel and contract employees who support Operation Enduring Freedom. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) uses the base for humanitarian flights, training and medical flights. The United States Air Force 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group is located at Shindand for the purpose of supporting NATO training missions and training the Afghan Air Force to be in a position to take over the base. The CIA uses the base for surveillance missions over Iran and Afghanistan.
Shindand Airbase, built in 1961, was originally a Soviet airbase. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the base reverted to Afghanistan control. The base became the heart of the Afghan Air Force. Invading forces repeatedly bombed the base in 2002 in the quest to find al Quida and bin Laden. The Afghan government and coalition forces worked together to rebuild the runways and the airbase. In 2009, the runway was again functional and able to support aircraft as large as the C-130 Hercules transport. It is interesting to note that the first concrete paver was hijacked and held for ransom, and the equipment was eventually destroyed by the highjackers. It took six months before another paver could be obtained and secretly flown in to Shindand to complete the project. The United States desperately needed the base to fly in and out to support the mission in Afghanistan and to train and establish an Afghan air force. Just as desperately, other forces did not want that to happen.
Shindand has now tripled in size and become the second largest airfield in Afghanistan. Afghan pilots are currently being trained in the United States, but infrastructure is continually growing at Shindand with the intent to begin training the pilots at Shindand Airbase. The project to turn Shindand Airbase into the Afghan training center cost $500 million dollars and houses 3,000 coalition forces and contract workers. At one point in construction, all contract employees had to be removed from the site due to local landowners claiming to own the land, and finding seven improvised explosive devices. The contractors eventually returned and the project was finished on time.
A cargo terminal, passenger terminal and fire station were added along with expansion of the apron and taxiways which will allow C-17 aircraft. In 2012 a new 1.3 mile runway will be added to the base.
Life at Shindand Airbase
Assignments to Shindand Airbase are either for 365 days, or for temporary duty of 179 days. US military members are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. No one is allowed to live off of the base because it is not safe to do so.
Red Cross emergency communications are available in case of family illness or death. A post office is available and mail is free. Packages are sent via USPS but must be inspected before being mailed.
Personnel are subjected to routine urinalysis. Anytime personnel are outside of their living quarters they must be armed except when doing physical fitness training or showering.
Internet and email services are available for communicating stateside. Barber and beauty salon are available. Dental and Sick Call services are available.