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Al Asad Airbase
Airport type Military: Airbase
Operator United States Air Force
Location Al Anbar Province, Iraq
In use until 2011
Elevation AMSL 618 ft / 188 m
Coordinates 33°48′N 42°26′E / 33.8°N 42.433°E / 33.8; 42.433Coordinates: 33°48′N 42°26′E / 33.8°N 42.433°E / 33.8; 42.433
Direction Length Surface
ft m
09R/27L 13,100 3,990 Asphalt
09L/27R 13,100 3,990 Asphalt
08/26 10,100 3,090 Packed Dirt
no ILS

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Al Asad Airbase (ICAO: ORAA / KQAJ) was the second largest US military airbase in Iraq and is located in the largely Sunni western Province of Iraq Anbar Governorate. Until January 2010, it was the home of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF). Other major tenants have included the 3rd ID's 4th IBCT, 82nd Airborne Division Advise & Assist Brigade, 321st Sustainment Brigade, Vertical Onboard Delivery Detachment-1 (VOD-1),[1] VAQ-142, Navy Customs Battalion Juliet, elements of the Iraqi Army's 7th Division, and the United States Air Force (USAF).



Graphic depiction of Al Asad's location

The base, located about 100 miles (160 km) west of Baghdad, is divided by a wadi that runs through the area. It has a perimeter of more than 15 miles (24 km), and is the second largest USAF base in Iraq. It has 23 hardened shelters, two 3,990-metre (13,100 ft) paved runways and a 3,090-metre (10,100 ft) dirt runway. The runways, taxiways, tarmacs, hangars, and maintenance areas are on the southern half of the base, while living quarters, motor pools, and administrative areas are in the natural valley formed by the dry river bed to the north. A number of abandoned Iraqi aircraft are scattered throughout the base, in various states of disrepair, as well as hardened bunkers originally meant to house them.

The oasis located on the base is mistakenly known as "Abraham's Well", and is purported to have been a stopping place during the journey of Abraham recounted in the Book of Genesis.


A 2005 haboob engulfs Al Asad

Al Asad was formerly an Iraqi Air Force Airbase, then known as Qadisiyah Airbase. In Arabic, Al Asad means the "The Lion". Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it housed three units of the Iraqi Air Force, which flew MiG-25s and MiG-21s. It was abandoned shortly after the start of the invasion.

Airbase during the Iraq War

The base was initially secured during the Iraq War by the Australian Special Air Service Regiment and was turned over to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in May 2003.The 3rd ACR was relieved by the Marines of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in March 2004. Al Asad became the largest Coalition base in western Iraq and the western equivalent of Baghdad's Green Zone.

Al Asad was a major convoy hub, hosting hundreds of fuel and supply trucks every day. Huge shipments of fuel were commonly run along the dangerous routes coming out of Jordan and, despite insurgent attempts, a majority of these convoys arrived at their destinations untouched. A single convoy operation would sometimes last a couple days with trucks on the road for over 8 hours a day.

Air Force One visits Al Asad in 2007

Like other large bases in Iraq, Al Asad offered amenities including an indoor swimming pool, movie theater (which was a carbon copy of the Sustainer Theatre at Camp Anaconda), post office, Morale, Welfare and Recreation center, several gyms, Post Exchange, Burger King, Cinnabon, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Subway Restaurant, and a Green Beans Coffee Shop. The base is self-sufficient for producing drinking water, having both a reverse osmosis water purification plant and a bottling plant. Most of the housing on base are "cans" – shipping containers converted to, or manufactured as, living areas. Some of the original barracks still remain, however, and were used as well. Overflow tents were used when required, such as transition periods, which can nearly double the number of troops on the base. The base was a common destination for celebrities and politicians visiting American troops in Iraq, such as Chuck Norris and Toby Keith. While the towns and routes near Al Asad were as dangerous as anywhere else in Iraq, it is relatively remote and is easily accessible by air. The base would receive indirect fire from Iraqi insurgents which would cause little to no damage. In one case, a mortar round damaged the portable toilets placed outside one of the barracks. Indirect fire would also be commonly mistaken for controlled EOD explosions inside the base.

The controversial song Hadji Girl was recorded at Al Asad in 2005. On September 3, 2007, President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace visited Al Asad and spent Labor Day with the servicemembers deployed to the base. Also in September 2007, V-22 Ospreys from VMM-263 landed at Al Asad Airfield as part of the first combat missions of the aircraft.[2]

As the Marines withdrew from Iraq, Al Asad remained one of the last American-occupied bases in Al Anbar. In 2009 and 2010, Marines with the 2nd MEF removed the majority of gear and personnel from the base.[3] The MEF concluded its operations at Al Asad in March 2010. The last of the civilian personnel were airlifted from Al Asad on December 16, 2011, and the base officially closed on December 31, 2011.

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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