"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Monday, September 03, 2007

President bush in Anbar province, Iraq for 6 hours on way to Oz

On his way to Australia for the Sydney Australian summit to meet Asia-Pacific leaders, President Bush flew via Al Asad airbase in Al Anbar province 180 kilometers West of Baghdad and 12 kilometers Southwest of the Euphrates River for his third trip to Iraq. (Fox pic - note the darkies and the dykes in frame - Dubya on Right)

He was joined by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived ahead of Bush and conferred with senior U.S. officials, including Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. They were joined by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Adm. William Fallon, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East before a session with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, and other top Iraqi officials from Baghdad.

They were also joined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who travelled with Bush on his first and mysterious trip at Thanksgiving in 2003 but who never appeared in any press pictures.

Al Asad Airbase

Called Qadisiiyah Airbase by Saddam it is on or near the site of an oasis in use since Abrahamic times and was also named after the site of a famous Persian / Arab battle in May 636 named after the battle of Al Qadisiyah, معركة القادسيّة a village south of Baghdad on the Euphrates in the modern province called ad-Diwāniyyah Province, along with al Muthanna and Najaf Governorates.

At the ancient battle Iranians /Persians outnumbered the Arabs by six to one and their war elephants frightened the Arabs, but they were decisively trounced allowing the Arabs to move onto to the Sassanid capital at Ctesiphon.

By dressing horses elaborately they managed to frighten the elephants who created havoc in the ranks. In this way the islamic Caliphate under Caliph Umar spread Eastwards and brought the Islamic faith to all of what is .

The Baathists used the battle iconically to represent the age old struggle of the Iran / Iraq conflict calling it a modern "Qadisiyah" and representing the war as part of an ancient struggle between the Arab and Persian empires and the name was used widely to identify the confict on currency, ostage stamps, medals and famously in the huge ( and remarkably still intact) Saddam Victory Arch in Baghdad also called The Sword of Qādisiyyah, which was inaugurated in August 1989.

The massive airbase, the second largest in Iraq was captured on 16th April 2003 by the Australian Special Air Service Regiment troops. They discovered an amazing buried cache of Soviet era MiGs but also three very advanced MiG-25 Foxbats all hidden under camouflage.(for more info see "Mig Dig") The discovery of over 50 aircraft at AL Asad Air Base and nearly 8 million kilograms (8,000 tonnes) of explosive ordnance was a major achievement. Some of the fighters were buried, others were parked in date palm tree groves or tucked in dried out riverbeds and covered with camouflage sheets.
It was at one time a state of the art facility, built by the Iraqi government and funded by Yugoslavia in the early 1980's but was abandoned in the mid 1990's.

On Oct. 3, 2004 Det. C, Marine Aircraft Control Squadron 1, MWSG 38, 3rd MAW, transferred their operations to the Iraqi air traffic control tower at al-Asad on Sept. 30, 2004.

The Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 23 reconstruced over thirty bomb craters between October 2004 and March 2005. In early June 2005 marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 put the finishing touches on a two-month project to enhance the security of the airbase by expanding the perimeter fence. Engineers, welders, draftsmen, surveyors and heavy equipment operators began the mesa fence project in April 26, and since then worked through temperatures ranging in the triple digits and constant blowing dust to extend the perimeter of the airbase.

The fence line was pushed out to extend security. It provides a better vantage point for security towers.

The Coalition Commander has decided to bring in a coalition force at Al Asad, for a variety of countries to help the U.S. with the occupation. Soldiers from Uganda are at Al Asad, to guard facilities that are in the airbase itself. As of November 21, 2005 soldiers from Uganda guard the PX, gymnasium and other morale support activity buildings. The reasons that the troops from Uganda are there, is because it frees up the troops for offense. For example, if these Soldiers from Uganda were not guarding these sights on the FOB the Soldiers from the 1/109th would have to use some resources for that objective.

Marines and soldiers at the outlying forward operating bases have another name for al-Asad -- "Camp Cupcake." it is thought of as luxurious compared with most other bases in Iraq. New housing, called "can cities," (see pic) have been developed all over Al Asad. Metal trailers linked together provide one or two soldiers with 10-foot by 20-foot living areas. Latrines have running water and porcelain commodes in the can cities, not portapotties. Showers are spotless, just the place to refresh after an "abs" session with the on-base trainer. A theater shows movies day and night.

Soldiers, Marines, Air Force personnel and sailors can do laps in the indoor swimming pool. The large PX faces competition from nearly a dozen Iraqi merchants, who are licensed to sell everything from local crafts and rugs to Cuban cigars and pirated DVDs.

The living conditions at Al Asad have been very good, with daily showers and air conditioning reported. The food and gym facilities have been reported as being excellent and, as from February 2006, Al Asad has had a telephone center and Internet café (albeit with a lengthy wait).

What flies i an out of Al Asad is not known - apart from the Presidential circus. As a Forward Operating Base with hardened aircraft shelters etc., it will probably be a base for most the fighter fleet - hence the swanky "Top Gun" accomodation.

Map of known Forward Operating Bases in Iraq which are becoming increasingly fixed / permanent; click on image for enlargedimage

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