Gateway To Afghanistan

THURSDAY, DEC. 9, 2010

MONDAY, DEC. 6, 2010

TUESDAY, NOV. 30, 2010

TUESDAY, NOV. 9, 2010

Jet fuel supplier stirs Kyrgyz protest

Jet fuel, essentially the lifeblood of Manas Transit Center, has become a worsening diplomatic problem for the United States.Kyrgyz government leaders want the Pentagon to scrap its new, $630 million supply contract with Mina Corp., which many believe has ties to ousted Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek...

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MONDAY, OCT. 25, 2010

SUNDAY, OCT. 24, 2010

Manas coverage in print editions

Here's an electronic recap of the Manas-related articles published over the past week in The Spokesman-Review's print editions:Tuesday (10.19.2010): Front-line support -- A look at a typical refueling mission over the rugged battlefields of Afghanistan.Thursday (10.21.2010): Rebuilding hope -- A look at the humanitarian assistance...

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SATURDAY, OCT. 23, 2010

FRIDAY, OCT. 22, 2010

Col. Dwight Sones, commander of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing in Kyrgyzstan, has made community outreach a key focus of the U.S. air base. The base hosted an estimated 2,000 Kyrgyz visitors Oct. 18, 2010, for tours and demonstrations celebrating the more than 600 civilians from the Bishkek area who work at the Manas Transit Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Manas Transit Center

Manas Transit Center, where hundreds of airmen and women from Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane are regularly deployed, is a key supply and refueling hub for U.S. and coalition combat operations in nearby Afghanistan. Photographer Colin Mulvany and deputy city editor David Wasson recently...

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Compare and contrast

Airman 1st Class Travis Carter had been in Baghdad when combat operations dwindled and he found out he'd be redeployed to Kyrgyzstan.Initially worried about what it would be like, he's now glad to be at Manas, assigned to the logistics and readiness squadron. He helps...

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WEDNESDAY, OCT. 20, 2010

Col Dwight Sones, commander of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing in Kyrgyzstan, has made community outreach a key focus of the U.S. air base. The base hosted an estimated 2,000 Kyrgyz visitors Oct. 18, 2010 for tours and demonstrations celebrating the more than 600 civilians from the Bishkek area who work at the Manas Transit Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

From 'need to know' to 'need to share'

Manas commanders regularly struggle with what they consider flawed perceptions of the U.S. air base's military role showing up in Russian, Kyrgyz and other predominantly foreign media. So, Manas is turning inside out the military's precautionary mindset that all information be guarded on a “need...

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TUESDAY, OCT. 19, 2010

A child holding a balloon watches from a classroom window at the Solnyshko preschool in Vasilievka, Kyrgyzstan, as airmen from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing make a humanitarian visit at the school Monday, Oct 18, 2010.  (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman Review)

Airmen visit preschool

Airmen from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing out of Fairchild Air Force Base made a humanitarian visit to the Solnyshko preschool in Vasilievka, Kyrgyzstan, on Monday, Oct 18, 2010. The children received donated winter coat, balloons, stuffed animals and school supplies, as well as the...

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Hungry Caterpillar reaches Kyrgyzstan

Some things are universal.And now it would seem safe to add “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to that list.The 1969 children's classic by Eric Carle became an instant hit with a roomful of Kyrgyz preschoolers this week, read to them by Tech Sgt. Trish Newton and...

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Spotlight on aging tanker fleet

Stars and Stripes today rolled out a Page One examination of America's aging KC-135 fleet, questioning whether two wars have put too much strain on aircraft designed in the 1950s and facing replacement delays because of mishaps, scandal and politics.It's a good overall read, and...

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At the Manas Transit Center, Marines with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, make preparations for haeding downrange in to Afghanistan Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Off to war

At the Manas Transit Center, Marines with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, make final preparations for haeding downrange in to Afghanistan Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010.

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MONDAY, OCT. 18, 2010

In a village near the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, men gather to chat wearing their traditional 'kolpaks' (tall felt hats. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Status symbol 

Apparently you have to have status in your village to wear one of these hats. In a village we passed through Monday, I spotted these men gathering to chat wearing their traditional 'kolpaks' (tall felt hats.)

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The donkey cart is a common sight in the small villiages near the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan. I spotted this one passing a pre-school Fairchild airmen were visiting Monday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A common sight

The donkey cart is a common sight in the small villiages near the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan. I spotted this one passing a pre-school that Fairchild airmen were visiting Monday.

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At the Manas Transit Center, Marines with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, unload  gear in preparation for haeding down range in to Afghanistan Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Nursing a double tall

It is 12:30 a.m. and I just gave up my bunk to a U.S. Army officer heading to Afghanistan. I have only six hours left of my stay at the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan. This place is jamming with a surge of new arrivals...

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SUNDAY, OCT. 17, 2010

Manas Transit Center���s bladder farm can hold nearly 4 million gallons of fuel, most of it aviation grade. Deliveries arrive from Bishkek around the clock, keeping the 20 bladders filled, each of which can hold 200,000 gallons. It takes four to five tarmac fuel trucks to prepare a KC-135R Stratotanker for each refueling mission. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

When a full bladder is a good thing 

There's a saying among KC-135 crews that goes something like, "You can't kick ass without tanker gas." It's a not-so-subtle way of reminding hotshot fighter jocks that the range and versatility of their sleek, high-powered strike jets -- particularly when fully armed -- would be...

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About 120 members of the Iowa National Guard, part of an advance crew for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, waited patiently in lines Sunday outside of a Manas supply tent, where they filed in based on body size to be issued body armor. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Guardsmen from the Heartland

About 120 members of the Iowa National Guard, part of an advance crew for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, waited patiently in lines Sunday outside of a Manas supply tent, where they filed in based on body size to be issued body armor.The group was...

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An F/A-18E Super Hornets from the decorated U.S. Navy attack squadron VFA 105, commonly known as the "Gunslingers," were among the half dozen fighter jets refueled Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010 above Afghanistan by a Fairchild-based KC-135R Stratotanker and crew on deployment in Kyrgyzstan. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

`Gunslingers' on patrol over Afghanistan

Two F/A-18E Super Hornets from the decorated U.S. Navy attack squadron VFA 105, commonly known as the "Gunslingers," were among the half dozen fighter jets refueled Saturday above Afghanistan by a Fairchild-based KC-135 tanker and crew on deployment in Kyrgyzstan.The carrier-based strike fighters rely on...

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Two beer limit

One of the surprises at Manas is its selection of beer, which includes an edgy, high-octane Russian import called "9" that blends a bit of vodka with the hops. And it's just $2 a bottle.But you'd be wise to savor each sip because the base...

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A boneyard of Soviet era planes sits on the edge of the Manas International Airport. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Relics of Soviet past

The U.S. air base shares the same runway as Bishkek's commercial airport, which is littered with decaying aircraft from Kyrgyzstan's recent Soviet past. Many of the Soviet-era buildings around the airport, some still in use, show severe deterioration as well.Dozens of dilapidated aircraft -- ranging...

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A Turkish meal serve from a shipping container was a welcome change from the normal base food. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Turkish surprise

The best-kept dining secret at Manas Transit Center is a Turkish cafeteria operating in a converted cargo container.It's surprisingly clean, quaint and delicious -- the kind of place that would steal the show if the Food Network ever did a Kyrgyzstan edition of its TV...

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SATURDAY, OCT. 16, 2010

During Family and Friends Day at the Manas Transit Center Saturday, Airman 1St Class Joseph Riemer with the Explosive Ordinance Disposial, has his photo taken with Kyrgyz resident Louiza Abdullaeva. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Bonding with Americans

Bishkek lawyer Louiza Abvullaeva, decked out in leather pants, stilletto heals and a designer T-shirt, was among the estimated 2,000 Kyrgyz residents to visit Manas Transit Center during the air base's annual Friends and Family Day on Saturday.“I have a bond with American people,” Abvullaeva...

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Sleepless in Kyrgyzstan

It is 4:40 a.m. in the morning in Kyrgyzstan and I can't sleep. I've been bunking with an Army soldier who is headed home from Afghanistan. He, like many others we've met, have that far-away stare that is so common with guys coming out of...

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Fairchild Air Force Base supplies 80 percent of the military aircraft and flight crews operating out of Manas Transit Center, a key hub along one of the primary NATO supply routes into Afghanistan. The small base, located outside the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek, is barely 400 miles from the Afghan border.







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