Credit Photo © Airmen stand at parade rest during the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing inactivation ceremony at Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, June 3, 2014. For more than 12 years, the American military has operated out of Transit Center at Manas.
The large engagement in Afghanistan is coming to an end. What comes next depends upon events and agreements. But for now, the US is shifting the logistics support system for its engagements in the region. In the case of airlift and air refueling, there is a shift in part from Kyrgyzstan to Romania.
According to a story by Jeff Schogol of Navy Times :
The last U.S. personnel are expected to leave the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, by the end of the week, a spokesman for Air Forces Central Command said Tuesday.
The Air Force held symbolic ceremonies Tuesday transferring back the facilities to the Krygyz government, said Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis. The transfer and inactivation become official after the expiration of the current lease next month and departure of military personnel in a few days.
“There are no U.S. military aircraft remaining at Manas,” Sholtis said in an email to Military Times. “The facilities at the center — along with approximately 65 pieces of excess equipment or vehicles ranging from de-icing machines to pickup trucks — will be included in the transfer. Serviceable military equipment was transported back to the United States or other military installations overseas; unserviceable equipment was disposed of through a certified disposal facility that was established at the base.”
For most of the war in Afghanistan, Manas had been a major transit hub for U.S. troops headed to and returning from Afghanistan, but the U.S. lease on the base expires this month because the Kyrgyz parliament voted last year to end the lease. The last passengers flew from Manas to Afghanistan on Feb. 28.
The US will now use the new transit center in Romania instead of the Kyrgyz base at Manas. According to a story in Stars and Stripes published last October :
Flights will now be routed through the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase on the Black Sea, Pentagon officials said. Known as Forward Operating Site MK, the site provides garrison support for up to 1,350 rotational forces and is now manned by five military members and 20 contractors, officials said.
Romania did not agree to host the air refueling flights currently run out of Manas, however. Those operations will be moved to a facility in Southwest Asia, officials said.
Although the Romanian base is more than three times as far from Afghanistan as Manas, officials said the increased distance would make little logistical difference, and that MK’s proximity to the Black Sea coast would be a benefit.
It served as the premier transportation and logistics hub supporting operations in Afghanistan. See : 376th Air Expeditionary Wing