Shindand Air Base
|Shindand Air Base|
|Breaking dusk, a C-130 takes off from Shindand Air Base in 2012|
|IATA: OAH – ICAO: OASD
|Operator||Afghan Ministry of Defense
|Elevation AMSL||3,773 ft / 1,150 m|
Shindand Air Base (IATA: OAH, ICAO: OASD) is located in the western part of Afghanistan in the Herat province, 7 miles northeast of the city of Sabzwar. The runway has a concrete surface. An all weather asphalt road connects it with the Kandahar–Herat Highway, part of Highway 1 (the national ring road). The base is of great strategic importance being just 75 miles from the border of Iran.
Once the largest Afghan Air Force base, it is now used by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The United States Air Force's 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group is based at Shindand AB supporting the ISAF and NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan mission. Since 2008 the base is believed to have been used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for secret surveillance missions over eastern Iran and western Afghanistan that have included use of the classified RQ-170 drone.
"Construction of a perimeter fence at Shindand Air Base tripled the size of the base and included 52 guard towers. Force protection was a major component of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) military construction program in Afghanistan." Shindand also hosts the 3rd Wing of the Afghan Air Force (AAF).
The Soviet military began building an airfield near the village of Shindand in 1961 and made heavy use of the base during the Soviet war in Afghanistan which ended in 1989. It was captured by the Taliban forces in 1997, and the runway sustained massive damage during bombing when coalition forces initially entered Afghanistan in 2002. It was recaptured by the Afghan National Army's 3rd Bde, Central Corps (now 201st Corps) elements w/ US Army National Guard Advisors from New Hampshire and Oregon on 14 and 15 August 2004. Elements of the 3/4 CAV of the 25th ID arrived two weeks later to reinforce these elements.
In 2010, the runway was refurbished so that it is able to support all Afghan Air Force (AAF) aircraft currently in use and opens western Afghanistan to larger fixed wing aircraft like the C-17 Globemaster III.
Airmen from the 809th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron constructed facilities to bed down the MQ-1B Predator unmanned aircraft system for the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing. The RED HORSE personnel built two separate sets of parking aprons, aircraft shelters, and maintenance facilities at this location and installed all of the needed utilities. The unit also created helicopter parking in 2010.
In mid 2011 an expansion of the base was completed which tripled its size. Construction was scheduled to begin on a new 1.3-mile NATO training runway in early 2012. But this has been canceled.
The US Army Corps of Engineers have recently added an additional 56,000 square meters of apron and taxiways capable of handling large strategic lift aircraft such as C-17s, eliminating the required two hour runway closure time that was usually required with each C-17 arrival. Also added were a 1,200 sq meter cargo terminal, a 790 sq meter passenger terminal and a fire suppression system with nearly 600,000 liters of water have also been added to the air base.
Supplying U.S. Army soldiers in Regional Command West, in March 2011 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (Virginia National Guard) was replaced by the 298th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (Mississippi National Guard). In early January 2012 the 298th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion was replaced by the 365th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (Mississippi Army Reserve).
Base security prior to summer 2011 is ill recorded but believed to consist primarily of base taxing. An Air Force Security Forces ESFS was not officially stood up, but nevertheless manned by a HQ unit of the 820th BDG and airmen sourced from several bases around summer 2011. In December of 2011 members of the Ohio, Pennsylvania National Guard were sourced to take the Base Defense mission mixed with a reduced contingent of Air Force Security Forces to create Task Force Griffin. Consisting of 240 Army and Air Force personnel and 350 Afghan security contractors conducting base defense operations in western Afghanistan • Responsible for the safety and security of 5600 military and civilian personnel and over $1.5 billion worth of military equipment and facilities • Responsible for over $100 million worth of vehicles and equipment • Oversaw a base defense mission that included Entry Control Point operations, 24 hour perimeter defense, law enforcement and a special security detachment supporting the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. • Unit was selected to be the core of a new task force put together on short notice to undergo retraining for a last minute change of mission. Integrated over 100 new personnel into a new task force and completed mission retraining in less than 30 days. • Streamlined operations enabling the task force to support more missions without an increase in manning • Increased the operational readiness of the vehicle fleet of 75 vehicles by 50%
On 27 Feb. 2012, advisers renamed the 'base-in-a-box' portion of the base to Camp Estelle, in dedication to Air Force Major Raymond Estelle II, who lost his life April 27, 2011, during a shooting incident at the Afghan Command and Control Center in the Afghanistan air force headquarters at the North Kabul International Airport.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has overseen about $111.6 million worth of construction at Shindand Air Base. A strategic airlift apron, taxiway, passenger terminal and cargo terminal project costing $18.2 million was also completed in 2011 at Shindand. Further, a rotary-wing apron, about 133,000 square yards in size, storage facilities, solid waste management and wastewater treatment plants and an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance apron. At Shindand, USACE oversaw a total of 12 MILCON contracts, one of which included 28 aircraft shelters. "The last of the hangars were finished this month and we've only got one MILCON project left on Shindand," said Abourialy. A wastewater treatment plant for the base was completed in January 2013. The Shindand Hospital was also built at the base, which has 28 beds and provide much needed medical care for the people of Shindand.
- List of airports in Afghanistan
- 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group
- 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group Warriors of the Month award winners, 29 Dec 2010
- John Walcott, "Iran Shows Downed Spy Drone as U.S. Assesses Technology Loss," Bloomberg Businessweek (December 9, 2011).
- "USACE's military construction program in southern Afghanistan winds down". Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
- Western Afghanistan Air Base Ready for Partners to Take Flight
- 219th RED HORSE Squadron Returns from Deployment
- Lt. Col. Joe DelCampo, Shindand Air Base triples in size, 12 July 2011; alt link 
- South District turns over Shindand strategic airlift apron, cargo and passenger terminals, 14 Jan 2012
- Shindand AB ushers in new strategic taxiway
- Petty Officer 1st Class John Pearl, 298th CSSB Takes Command in Afghanistan
- 298th CSSB Takes Command in Afghanistan
- Task Force Choctaw assumes sustainment mission in West
- 298th RIP/TOA Ceremony
- Shindand AB dedicates area to fallen air advisor
- "New wastewater treatmentplant promotespublic healthat FOB Shindand". Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System. Retrieved 2013-05-22.