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Rob's Iraq Deployment #2
Al Sahra Airfield

Home away from home!


Phone Calls | Robby | Saying Goodbye.........for now | Al Sahra Airfield

Al Sahra Airfield is located near Tikrit in northern Iraq, approximately 170 kilometers North of Baghdad and 11 kilometers west of the Tigris River. The airfield is served by two main runways measuring 10,000 and 9,600 feet long with an shorter runway measuring 7,200 foot. The two main runways have at least 8 alert hardened aircraft shelters.

Al Sahra is protected by 25 kilometers of security perimeter. Within the perimeter, vegetation growth highlights draws attention to the base. Vegetation planted to obscure the base from ground observation has the opposite effect when viewed from overhead.

Two large hangars located in the center of the airfield were struck during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. DoD released BDA imagery shows cratering of the two hangars. Also in the imagery are 11 straight-wing single engine aircraft that are possibly associated with Iraqi biological weapons delivery.

A joint UNMOVIC missile and biological team inspected the Al Sahra Airfield on 1 March 2003.

On 11 April 2003, for the first time in combat history, a B-52 Stratofortress used a LITENING Advanced Airborne Targeting and Navigation Pod to target facilities. A crew of reservists from the 93rd Bomb Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and active duty airmen from the 23rd Bomb Squadron, Minot AFB, N.D., flew the bomber from a forward operating location to successfully drop one laser-guided GBU-12 munition on a radar complex and one on a command complex at the Al Sahra airfield northwest of Tikrit using the LITENING system.

Imagery of the Al Sahra Airfield
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 the Al Sahra Airfield

Landsat 7 imagery of the Al Sahra Airfield. Vegetation inside the base perimeter defines the boundary

CIB imagery of the Al Sahra Airfield, as of 1995

CIB imagery of the Al Sahra Airfield, as of 1995

Ikonos browse imagery of Al Sahra Airfield as of April 6, 2001

Ikonos browse imagery of Al Sahra Airfield as of April 6, 2001. The area in the box was struck during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998

DoD released imagery of Al Sahra Airfield struck during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998

DoD released imagery of Al Sahra Airfield struck during Desert Fox. Visible are possible BW storage bunkers and aircraft that could be used for aerosol dispersal

Camp Speicher / FOB Speicher [not "Spiker"] / FLB Sycamore / Camp Sycamore

Coalition forces' only air-to-air loss during the 1991 Gulf War was the plane of Navy Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher. F/A-18 pilot Michael "Scott" Speicher was shot down over Iraq on the opening night of the Gulf War on 17 January 1991. He was originally considered "killed in action, body not recovered." Iraqi authorities provided a small amount of human remains they claimed to be those of Speicher. US experts determined this to be a lie. Iraq later claimed that his body was devoured by animals and no remains were found. At first, it was believed that Speicher had been killed in action. But later, evidence found at the crash site and reports from Iraqi defectors and foreign intelligence services indicated that Speicher had survived the crash and was a prisoner of war in Iraq. But in January 2001, the Navy changed his status to "missing in action" --- a decision the Navy says was based on an absence of evidence that he died in the crash of his plane and the lack of any satisfactory accounting of his case from the government of Iraq. In October 2002, the US classified Speicher as "captured" by Iraq. Captain Speicher would not be the first prisoner Iraq held in violation of the laws of war. It was not until April 1998 that Iraq agreed to release prisoners taken in the 1980 to 1988 Iran-Iraq War. Some sixty-thousand Iranian prisoners of war languished in captivity for a decade or more before being exchanged.

489th Engineer Battalion (Corps) ( Mechanized) Battalion HQ, an HHC Detachment (mess, commo, maint, support platoon), and A Company (minus personnel to exercise AVLBs left at Camp VA) departed Camp Pennsylvania for LSA Anaconda and crossed the border into Iraq on 15 May 2003. Route of march was Camp PA to Navistar to LSACedar to CSC Scandia to LSA Anaconda. The Battalion HQ, an HHC Detachment, and A Company arrived CSC Scandia at 0200 hours on 16 May. The convoy departed around 0900 hours, arriving at LSA Anaconda at 1500 hours. B Company departed Camp PA with all organic equipment and personnel (minus personnel to exercise AVLBs left at Camp VA) for AL Asad on 27 May. B Company mission would be in support of 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment (ACR) while directly reporting to the 122nd EN BN (Corps)(Wheeled)(South Carolina NG). All the sensitive items on the lost pallet were recovered. The pallet had been located by Chief Gonzalez with the 4th Infantry Division at Camp Sycamore (38SLD67804069) in North Tikrit.

In May 2003 Coalition Forces assisted locals in filling craters under railroad tracks outside Camp Speicher at Tikrit to restore train movement. They continued to conduct medical treatment programs in the Iraqi community outside the city. The 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas, has been tasked with providing force protection for the combat brigades of the 4th Infantry Division. They are located at Camp Speicher in Tikrit. Since there is no threat from the Iraqi Air Force, ADA has been doing Infantry assignments. The 1/44th is responsible for several force protection improvements at Camp Ironhorse, Camp Speicher, and around the city of Taji. In June 2003 Lt. Col. Richard Evans assumed command of the 404th Aviation Support Battalion during a ceremony at Camp Speicher, Iraq. Lt. Col. Alan Stull was the departing Commander.

References to soaring eagles proliferated on 28 June 2003 at a re-opening ceremony for the Al Seccor health clinic, just outside Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq. Al Seccor means The Eagle, or eagle village and the 4th Brigade is called the Iron Eagle brigade. Its not just a play on word association. The village and the Iron Eagle brigades S-3 operations section have worked together closely since April 2003.

Quarters are small, modern looking houses in a row of about ten of the same like Condos. They were apparently used by the Iraqi officers stationed there.

Its name scrawled across the top of the entrance, the "Clear Creek II PX" doesn't exactly resemble its Fort Hood supersized counterpart, but it has become a welcome touch of good old-fashioned U.S. commercialism, albeit military style, for U.S. troops in Iraq. Hood soldiers deployed with the 4th Infantry Division at Camp Speicher have the chance to shop for food and other basics, courtesy of the Army Air Force Exchange Service and Fort Hood Post Exchange manager Patrick McGhee. The camp, near Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, had been without a store for two months. When McGhee arrived in May, he agreed to set up a temporary exchange while he and his staff focused on readying what would be the permanent store. The store itself serves more than 1,000 soldiers a day and has seen that number sometimes near 2,000. Pharris said 13th Community Support Command troops have volunteered to work in the main store, off-loading trucks and stocking shelves and running cash registers.

I will be adding pictures of Rob at Camp Speicher as soon as I recieve some.