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Ali Al Salem Air Base is a military airbase situated in Kuwaitmarker, approximately 23 miles from the Iraqimarker border. The airfield is owned by the Government of Kuwait, and during Operation Southern Watch and Operation Telic / Operation Iraqi Freedom hosted Royal Air Force (RAF), United States Air Force (USAF) and United States Marine Corps (USMC) personnel and aircraft. Since those operations, the base has been returned to the control of the Kuwaiti Government, with the USAF continuing to maintain a presence alongside their Kuwait Air Force counterparts. The principal USAF unit on base is the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing (386 AEW).

Recent history

In 1990, the base was the first to be overrun by the Iraqi troops. Fighting at that initial battle lasted for less than thirty minutes as most of the Kuwaiti military chose to flee, rather than face almost certain defeat. A small number of Kuwaiti regulars, staff officers, and the base General stayed to fight. Upon discovery by the Iraqi military, the Kuwaiti General was hanged from the base flagpole by Iraqi troops. New flagpoles have since been installed, however as of December 2007, the original pole still stands. The remaining Kuwaiti military personnel were lined up outside the old Kuwaiti officers' club and shot. While no longer used, the building and bullet holes remain.

Prior to 1990, the Frenchmarker, under contract, built large reinforced concrete Hardened Aircraft Shelters (HAS) for the Kuwaiti Air Force. The French told the Kuwaitis that the structures were impenetrable. After Iraq took over the base, they moved the Kuwaiti aircraft and parked the Iraqi aircraft in the hangars. The French impenetrable claim turned out to be wrong when the US and allied forces, in the opening hours of desert storm, punched through the concrete bunkers. The Kuwaitis are still involved in legal suits over the "impenetrable clause of the contract". The French claim that they had no way of foreseeing that the US had invented bunker busters - some say that the French intended for the bunkers to protect against Sovietmarker-procured Iraqi weapons. You can see one of the "HAS" bunkers and the destruction done by the bunker busters on this page.

RAF use

The Royal Air Force operated out of AAS from late 1998, just before Operation Desert Fox. The RAF detachment consisted of various non-formed units, and a rotating Squadron of Panavia Tornado GR1A and later Tornado GR4s. The base was rapidly expanded in early 2003 to base the Joint Helicopter Command assets prior to start of Operation Telic, the British designation for the US designated Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During the war, the RAF amalgamated five Tornado GR4 Squadrons based at AAS to form the Ali Al Salem Combat Air Wing, commanded by Wing Commander Paddy Teakle OBE (OC 31 'Goldstars' Squadron). He was awarded the DSO for his leadership.

The RAF had relocated to Al Udeid Air Basemarker, Qatarmarker by 2004.

Current status

The base currently hosts several military units besides the Kuwaiti Air Force. They include United States Marine Corps, United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Army, and Australian forces.

Each unit on Ali Al Salem has their own section. The USAF has "The Rock", the USA has the LSA, and the USN has Camp Moreell. The Army and Navy sections are used as a transient point for military personnel going in and out of the Middle East (Afghanistanmarker, Iraqmarker, Qatarmarker, Bahrainmarker) and Africa (namely Djiboutimarker). US Navy Customs also works from a compound within the LSA, their mission being to provide customs and agricultural inspections for all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians returning to the United States. US Military forces carry out daily convoys near and within Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Being the closest airbase to the border of Iraq, "The Rock" and the "LSA" provide a key location for allied forces to provide support for troops in southern Iraq.


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