Airmen Likely Headed for Recaptured Iraqi Airfield

Although the units that will send the 560 additional US troops to Iraq to turn the recently recaptured Qayyarah airfield into a support base for the intense battle for Mosul have not been announced, they will almost certainly include Air Force personnel. In a July 15 telephone briefing, Central Command spokesman Army Col. Pat Ryder said some of the first new US personnel likely will be engineers, such as Navy SeaBee construction units or Air Force Red HORSE rapid deployable airfield repair squadrons, he said. The airfield “is in bad shape” after the prolonged ISIL occupation and the fight to retake it, Ryder said. The additional personnel will be needed to open and operate the airfield as “an Iraqi logistics hub” for the upcoming battle to eject ISIL fighters from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, he said. The Air Force has units specifically trained and equipped to operate crude airfields, including providing air traffic control. Although Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said July l4 that Qayyarah would be used by Iraqi and US aircraft, Ryder said he could not confirm reports that Air Force F-16 fighters would be based there.