The purpose of this work is to research Tallil Air Base in Iraq providing a brief history of the base from the time of Operation Desert Storm to the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The question of how Tallil was built into OIF planning and when it was decided that Tallil would be a desired location for a base will be answered as well as why it was considered a key location and who initially took the base as to the military unit and whether it was a forcible entry. The questions of who secured the base, whether there was inter-service coordination, what was there when the U.S. military arrived to start building and how the base was then built will be answered as well. Finally the issues of whether there was a coordinated effort between the army and air force will be answered and what happened to the base set up and in the long-term will be answered as well as whether there was a basing model used in building the base.
Called one of the cultural sites at most risk from the ongoing war in Iraq was the site of the ancient city of Ur and considered to be possibly the oldest city in the world and one which was flourishing during the period of the Sumerian civilization between the year 3500 B.C. And 4000 B.C. Ur is located near Tallil airbase and radio centre the site of a 1991 Operation Desert Storm bombing. Ur is said to be the biblical birthplace of Abraham and in the early 20th century it was revealed during a series of excavations that a royal cemetery and their servants were buried along with the remains of a 'ziggurat' or the tower of a temple which was ramped and is the best preserved ziggurat in Iraq. Furthermore, layer upon layer of ancient history is still buried beneath the ancient city or Ur.
Tallil airbase has been a strategic site during Operation Iraqi Freedom and continues to be such. During the year 2000 an investigation was conducted in relation to chemical waste storage and exposure at Tallil airbase the assessment states that they do not consider Tallil airbase to have been a chemical weapons storage facility during the year of 1991. In an article in relation to air guardsmen detail in the Iraqi freedom close-air Support the American Forces Service Press Service reported on July 16, 2003 that only three days into the Operation Iraqi Freedom, a new mission was assigned to Air Force Lt. Col. Dave Kennedy. The mission: To ready Tallil airbase for the missions of the A-10 Thunderbolt II. The article states that: "The mission could be an enormous asset in the war against the regime of Saddam Hussein" [in that] "the coalition could provide more close-air support for forces attacking the regime near Baghdad." (Garamone, 2003) According to the report the plan was that the A-10s would leave the Al Jaber Kuwaiti airbase landing at Tallil and through being able to refuel could have more flying time at the targeted site.
The methodology of this research is through a literature review as well as review of historical data and government reports.
Review of Literature
Tallil airbase was one of the first taken over during Gulf War II. A report entitled "Adventures in Bare Bones Basing stated that the Iraqis had gone to a lot of trouble to make Tallil AB unusable (Dobbins, 2004): The primary function of an air base is the provision of sustained airpower with the three essential air components of airpower being that of the aircrew, the aircraft, and the airfield which form the basis in the present model. On the morning February 27th, it is reported that the XVIII Airborne Corps prepared to continue its advance east toward Al Basrah. Tallil airfield is located approximately 20 miles south of the town of An Nasinyah.Jabbah airfield lay 40 miles east southeast, near the lake at Hawr al Malih. The units that ended the previous day in the position closet to the airfield were assigned the task of taking the airfields.
The 1st Brigade conducted a fixing attack toward the airfield of Jabbah while the 2d Brigade moved east approximately 25 miles before turning north with the same objective. The 197th Brigade moved north taking Tallil. After taking a rest period of four hours the 2d Brigade lit its' attack at midnight seizing a position on the 27th at 0:200 just south of Jallbah and waiting there while initial preparation fire fell against the airfield.
The 1st Brigade moved toward the airfield to the east and stopping short fired continued with their firing against the position of the Iraqis while simultaneously the 2d Brigade began anew their attack utilizing three infantry-armor task forces and came through the runway fences a fight ensued with the "ineffectual small arms" of the Iraqi defenders While nearly 200 American armored vehicles advanced across the airfield the Iraqi rounds pierced two of the armored Bradleys and killed two of the 1st Battalion, 64th armor men and wounded several in the 3d Battalion 15th Infantry securing the airfield by 10:00 and by noon heavy rocket launch preparation and twenty-eight close air sorties were given direction onto the Tallil airfield. The fires had barely lifted when the 197th Brigade crossed the runways on the weaker than Jahbah resistance forces yet just as the 2d Brigade had experienced at Jahbah the armored vehicles and grounded aircraft was disabled and large groups of happily taken prisoners crowded the area.
Tallil's capture as well as capture of other airfields was vital in the military operation grand scheme in the Iraqi war. U.S. Department of State: International Information Program
s reported on April 5, 2003 part of which was as follows: "But during those first few days, we moved with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force from south to north from Kuwait, and then with the 3rd Infantry Division moving from Kuwait's western, northwestern border to the northwest towards An Nasiriyah, As-Samawa, An Najaf, and then continuing on. The 3rd Infantry Division attacked to seize initially the Tallil airfield, the town of An Nasiriyah, and then to follow -- with a follow-on objective of the town of As-Samawa. We also seized key Highway 1 bridges in the vicinity of An Nasiriyah to allow for the 1st Marine Division to then move forward to the north as they made the turn coming up out of the oil fields and continuing on towards As-Shatra (sp) and al-Kut to engage a Republican Guard division in the vicinity of al-Kut."
In another report stated is the following: U.S. Marines raided Tallil Air Base in southern Iraq and seized a large weapons cache and a chemical decontamination vehicle and finally, third report confirms the same stating that "In one little-noted but significant development last week, U.S. forces seized the Tallil airfield outside Nasiriyah and began flying fighter-bomber missions from this forward base in support of the ground advance. This has allowed a force of some 15 jets to be in the air over the battlefield 24 hours a day, ready to take out Iraqi tanks and troop positions as they are identified." (Budiansky, 2003)
Colonel John Dobbins (2004) writes in his report concerning the lessons learned during the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) during the planning, building, fighting and deployment of the Tallil Air Base are researched in order to bring about improvement to Air Force instruction (AFI) in relation to assessment as well as the planning aspect of the project.. Further Col. Dobbins (2004) states that, "My recommendations are based on a model that I found very useful. Further reported are the applications in relation to the situational use of the same. Col. Dobbins states that the U.S. Air Force AFI 10-404 Base Support and Expeditionary Site Planning, gives the Air Force a provisional outline in the initiative of writing a support plan for the base or a 'base support plan'. (BSP) "However" states the Colonel in his work that it is "my perspective as a base-level leader on the ground prior to and during OIF, there appears to be inadequate instruction provided for those commanders who are senior commanders and there was a failure on the part of the content and organizational aspects to provide a true reflection of problems throughout the world. Stated is that "A BSP should be more than a catalog of physical facts and figures; it should explore the functionality of the various aspects of the base. In its finest form the SP needs to be a detailed template of how to "fight the base---- -- employee the base like a weapons system." (Dobbins, 2004)
The air base is stated by Col. Dobbins to be a "complex machine that has so many moving parts and interdependent elements that one can easily become overwhelmed by its complexity…