Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), depart a bus and walk toward a C-17 transport plane on Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Feb. 3. Soldiers with the 2nd BCT were departing for a deployment in Afghanistan and were the first group of soldiers to utilize the Passenger Transit Center at the base as a transition point on their way in and out of the U.S. Central Command area of operations. (Staff Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr./Army)
The U.S. Air Force presence in Kyrgyzstan has ended, and a new hub in Romania is up and running.
On Jan. 31, the 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron air traffic control airmen at Manas Transit Center deactivated, ending 10 years of controlling aircraft at the base, the major hub for Air Force operations into and out of Afghanistan. The base’s operations are being replaced by the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in eastern Romania. On Feb. 3, a U.S. C-17 marked the first mission from the base, carrying about 300 soldiers to Afghanistan.
“We envision this as a temporary facility, but it’s vital to the mission,” Lt. Col. Wayne Maroto, spokesman for the Army’s 21st Theater Sustainment Command, said in a news release. “It means a lot to commanders, who need to get troops into theater as safely and efficiently as possible, and it means a lot to soldiers eager to accomplish their mission or get home to their loved ones after a long deployment.”
The base can accommodate 2,000 transitioning personnel, with a continuous presence of about 350 military members and civilians.
The first flight carried members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) from Fort Campbell, Ky. The C-17 and aircrew are operated by the 780th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.
The Defense Department announced the basing agreement with Romania last year.