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Kyrgyzstan NATO base continues to supply Afghanistan

By Adriana Stuijt     Feb 7, 2009 in Politics
Despite reports that NATO's Manas Air base is closing within 180 days, the crucial military shipments from Kyrgyzstan to the troops in Afghanistan continue, says Major Damien Pickart, public affairs spokesman for the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing.
He says that the coalition personnel continue to perform their daily air mobility and aerial refueling missions despite press reports that an announcement is pending from Kyrgyz leadership about the future of the base.
And colonel Christopher Bence, commander, says: "Until we are told that our mission has changed, we will continue to support coalition operations in Afghanistan as the premier air mobility and aerial refueling hub.'
Manas Air Base currently serves as the premier air mobility hub for the International Security Assistance Force and coalition military forces operating in Afghanistan.
The around-the-clock missions include aerial refueling, airlift and airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and support for coalition personnel and cargo transiting in and out of Afghanistan. And refuelling in the air forms a major part of this operation.
3,294 Stratotanker missions in 2008
In 2008, the wing's fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers flew 3,294 refueling missions passing 194,453,400 lbs of gas to 11,419 aircraft over the skies of Afghanistan.
Manas AB personnel also supported more than 170,000 coalition personnel transiting in and out of Afghanistan and processed 5,000 short tons of cargo, to include spare parts and equipment, uniform items and various items to support personnel and mission needs.
The 376th Air Expeditionary Wing began operations at the Manas International Airport in December 2001, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Initially referred to as Ganci Air Base, in honor of Peter Ganci Jr., the New York City Fire Department chief who died in the World Trade Center attack, Manas AB has hosted coalition personnel and aircraft from ten countries including Australia, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain and the United States.
Currently, 1,000 personnel from Spain, France and the United States are assigned to the base, along with 650 U.S. and host-nation contractor personnel that provide daily support to various missions. Aircraft assigned include U.S. KC-135s, French C135FRs and Spanish C-130s. see
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