Monday, June 2, 2014

US ex-airbase in Kyrgyzstan shutting down on June 3 - commander

The Transit Center at Manas, former US airbase in Kyrgyzstan, will formally close down on June 3, Colonel John Millard, commander of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing and Manas base head, told reporters on Monday.

The US government will pass a symbolic key to the Kyrgyz government on June 3, he said, adding that the US government would thereby keep its promise to close down the Transit Center at Manas by July 11, 2014.

The commander cited some statistic data and said the Transit Center had been accomplishing four types of missions, including refueling, cargo transportation and humanitarian aid.

During more than 12 years of operations, the Manas base near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek handled more than 33,000 refueling missions, which consumed one billion liters of jet fuel sufficient for filling 9,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, Millard said.

The center moved more than 5.3 million servicemen in and out of Afghanistan in the course of Operation Enduring Freedom, which was 98% of all personnel engaged in the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan since late 2001, he said.

The Transit Center transported servicemen of various countries, from South Korea and Mongolia to Poland and El Salvador. It also accomplished 37 humanitarian projects with the total value of $4.7 million.

As of now, the base is operated by 300 US servicemen. All of them will be gone from Kyrgyzstan by July 11, Millard said, Interfax reports.

The airbase opened in December 2001 after the United States had struck an intergovernmental agreement with Kyrgyzstan.

At first, the Transit Center was an airbase named after Peter Ganci, Jr., a firefighter who died in the 11 September terrorist attack in New York City while putting out fire in the World Trade Center Twin Towers. It was renamed the Manas airbase in 2005 and the Transit Center at Manas in 2009.

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