Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Incirlik Air Base
The İncirlik Air Base, an important regional storage center in NATO's Southern Region is located in İncirlik, 12 km east of Adana, Turkey's fourth largest city, and 56 km from the Mediterranean Sea (37°00'N 35°26'E).
The airbase has a United States Air Force (USAF) staff of ca. 4,000, with several hundred British and Turkish personnel attached (-late 2002). The primary unit stationed here is the 39th Air Base Wing (39 ABW).
The U.S. Engineering Corps began construction of the base in the spring of 1951. The USAF initially planned to use the base as an emergency staging and recovery site for medium and heavy bombers. The Turkish General Staff and the USAF signed a joint use agreement for the new base in December 1954. On February 21, 1955, the base was officially named Adana Air Base, with the 7216th Air Base Squadron as host unit. The site was later renamed Incirlik Air Base on February 28, 1958.
Project 119L, a U.S. Air Force meteorological balloon launching activity, conducted operations in 1955. Following balloon operations, pilots began flying U-2 reconnaissance missions as part of "Operation Overflight" by late 1957. The base was the main U-2 operating location until May 1, 1960, when a volley of 14 SA-2 Soviet surface-to-air missiles downed Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 aircraft over Sverdlovsk, a test site in the Soviet Union for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Lebanon crisis exploded in the summer of 1958, prompting the U.S. president to order Tactical Air Command (TAC) Composite Strike Force Bravo to deploy from the United States to Incirlik. The strike force consisted of F-100s, B-57s, RF-101s , RB-66s and WB-66s . These aircraft and supporting personnel overwhelmed the facilities at Incirlik, which also supported cargo and transport aircraft deploying an Army battalion from Germany to Lebanon. Because no ground fighting involving Americans erupted, the strike force flew missions to cover troop movements, show-of-force missions over Beirut, aerial reconnaissance sorties and leaflet drops.
As part of an effort to bring units with combat history into the theater, U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) inactivated Incirlik’s 7216th, which had become an air base group, and activated the 39th Tactical Group at Incirlik in its place on April 1, 1966. The Group assumed control of permanent support units and hosted rotational squadrons conducting training and maintaining NATO alert at Incirlik.
After the Lebanon crisis, TAC deployed F-100 fighter squadrons on 100-day rotations to Incirlik from the United States. The flying mission at Incirlik further diversified in 1970 when the Turkish Air Force agreed to allow U.S. Air Forces in Europe to use its air-to-ground range at 240 km northwest Konya, providing a suitable training area for squadrons deployed to Incirlik. These units also conducted training at Incirlik’s offshore air-to-air range .
In mid-1975, the Turkish government announced that all U.S. bases in Turkey would close and transfer control to the Turkish military. This action was in response to an arms embargo the U.S. Congress imposed on Turkey for using U.S.-supplied equipment during the invasion of Cyprus. Only Incirlik AB and Izmir Air Station remained open due to their NATO missions, but all other non-NATO activities at these locations ceased.
The U.S. Congress lifted the embargo in September 1978 and restored military assistance to Turkey. Normal operations resumed after the United States and Turkey signed a "Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement" (DECA) on March 29, 1980. After signing the DECA, USAFE initiated the Turkey Catch-up plan to improve quality of life. One of the major projects was a new base-housing complex.
After Iraq’s 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait, the 7440th Composite Wing (Provisional) assumed operational control of the 39th Tactical Group. The 7440th was the air component of Joint Task Force Proven Force, which eventually controlled 140 aircraft and opened a northern front, forcing Iraq to split its defenses between the north and the south, where the main thrust of coalition attacks originated as part of "Desert Storm". Following the war, Incirlik hosted "Combined Task Force Provide Comfort" (OPC), the effort to provide humanitarian relief to millions of Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq.
The U.S. State Department’s "Operation Quick Transit" evacuated thousands of Kurds from northern Iraq late in 1996. The wing provided logistical support in Turkey to this operation, which signaled the end of the humanitarian aspect of "Provide Comfort". OPC ended December 31, 1996, and "Operation Northern Watch" (ONW) took its place January 1, 1997 with the task to enforce the U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel in Iraq.
The 39th Air and Space Expeditionary Wing was activated at Incirlik AB on September 15, 1997, to support and command USAF assets deployed to Incirlik supporting ONW. Incirlik’s tent city, Hodja Village, became the USAF’s largest.
After September 11, 2001
In response to the events of September 11, 2001, "Operation Enduring Freedom" (OEF) began in October 2001. Incirlik served as a main hub of humanitarian airlift operations to Afghanistan, MC-130 special operations missions, KC-135 refueling missions and sustainment operations for deployed forces. The aerial port managed a 6-fold increase in airflow during the height of OEF. When the main bases in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan were constructed, Incirlik’s airflow supporting OEF decreased to a baseline sustainment level.
ONW ended with the beginning of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on March 19, 2003. ONW flew its last patrol on March 17, 2003, and closed a successful 12-year mission to contain the Iraqi military and inactivated May 1, 2003. The 39th ASEW was also inactivated, effective May 1, 2003. The Wing was deactivated on July 16, 2003 and the 39th Air Base Group was activated in its place.
On January 6, 2004, more than 300 soldiers of what would become thousands transited through Incirlik as the first stop back to their home post, after spending almost a year in Iraq. Incirlik was part of what was described as the largest troop movement in U.S. history. Incirlik provided soldiers with a cot, warm location, entertainment and food for a few hours outside of a hostile war zone.
On March 12, 2004, the 39th Air Base Group deactivated, and the 39th Air Base Wing activated to provide the best mix of required support and, as new mission requirements emerge, to shoulder the burden and better contribute in the global war on terrorism.
At a time when every passing hour adds to tension in the complex web of relationships among the Turks, Americans and Iraqi Kurds, Ankara and Washington are seeking a compromise on the future use of a critical Turkish air base by U.S. forces.
The heart of the matter is mutual mistrust. The Turkish are wary of U.S. intentions over the future of northern Iraq, while the United States still hold the belief that Turkey's rulers were in solidarity with the Sunni/Baathists in Iraq, not the Iraqi people. Turkey also has deep suspicions over Washington's future plans for Iran and Syria. How, under such circumstances, could the old NATO allies find common ground over Incirlik?
Following facilities exist for the service people and their family members:
- Elementary School,
- American High School,
- Education Center run by University of Maryland University College for 12 courses per term in departments such as: English, History, Psychology, Mathematics, Science, Foreign Language, Business and management, Computers, Government, Sociology, and Criminal Justice,
- Fitness Center.
This article contains information that originally came from a U.S. Government website, in the public domain
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