Baghdad, Iraq— The former Sather Air Base is essentially a fortified ghost town with only a few hundred US service members remaining. Since the State Department took over the base on Dec. 1, the official name has changed to the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, although few airmen are aware of the change. After the US military withdrawal from Iraq is complete by month’s end, BDSC will be the only base in Iraq to remain in US control. Everyone is working 12-hour days, and many airmen will have little or no time off until the last US flight leaves later this month. “There are literally going to be guys who are working to secure the airfield right up until the moment they run to the plane and take off,” said Col. Michael Gaal, vice commander of Sather’s 321st Air Expeditionary Wing. Many airmen are just starting to realize the enormity of being the last ones out. They are anxious to go home, but proud to be part of such an historic mission. “We just hope we did everything we could to prepare the Iraqis,” said CMSgt. Jerry Delebreau, 321st AEW command chief. “All of us want them to succeed.” Click here to read Amy McCullough’s full dispatch.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.