Shindand Airbase is located in southwest Afghanistan less than 75 miles from the Iranian border. The nearest town is seven miles away at Sabzwar City in the Harat Providence. The base is a co-base which means that it is shared operations between the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries. It is a remote assignment in a battle zone and no dependents are authorized. The only personnel on the airbase are military personnel and contract employees who support Operation Enduring Freedom. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) uses the base for humanitarian flights, training and medical flights. The United States Air Force 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group is located at Shindand for the purpose of supporting NATO training missions and training the Afghan Air Force to be in a position to take over the base. The CIA uses the base for surveillance missions over Iran and Afghanistan.
Shindand Airbase, built in 1961, was originally a Soviet airbase. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the base reverted to Afghanistan control. The base became the heart of the Afghan Air Force. Invading forces repeatedly bombed the base in 2002 in the quest to find al Quida and bin Laden. The Afghan government and coalition forces worked together to rebuild the runways and the airbase. In 2009, the runway was again functional and able to support aircraft as large as the C-130 Hercules transport. It is interesting to note that the first concrete paver was hijacked and held for ransom, and the equipment was eventually destroyed by the highjackers. It took six months before another paver could be obtained and secretly flown in to Shindand to complete the project. The United States desperately needed the base to fly in and out to support the mission in Afghanistan and to train and establish an Afghan air force. Just as desperately, other forces did not want that to happen.
Shindand has now tripled in size and become the second largest airfield in Afghanistan. Afghan pilots are currently being trained in the United States, but infrastructure is continually growing at Shindand with the intent to begin training the pilots at Shindand Airbase. The project to turn Shindand Airbase into the Afghan training center cost $500 million dollars and houses 3,000 coalition forces and contract workers. At one point in construction, all contract employees had to be removed from the site due to local landowners claiming to own the land, and finding seven improvised explosive devices. The contractors eventually returned and the project was finished on time.
A cargo terminal, passenger terminal and fire station were added along with expansion of the apron and taxiways which will allow C-17 aircraft. In 2012 a new 1.3 mile runway will be added to the base.
Life at Shindand Airbase
Assignments to Shindand Airbase are either for 365 days, or for temporary duty of 179 days. US military members are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. No one is allowed to live off of the base because it is not safe to do so.
Red Cross emergency communications are available in case of family illness or death. A post office is available and mail is free. Packages are sent via USPS but must be inspected before being mailed.
Personnel are subjected to routine urinalysis. Anytime personnel are outside of their living quarters they must be armed except when doing physical fitness training or showering.
Internet and email services are available for communicating stateside. Barber and beauty salon are available. Dental and Sick Call services are available.