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Gateway To Afghanistan

Dispatches from Manas

Welcome to Manas

The Manas Transit Center’s latest tanker landed Friday at the Kyrgyzstan base, unloading two pallets of coats, blankets and other humanitarian supplies collected from across the Inland Northwest.

The supplies will be distributed in villages and schools within the impoverished Central Asian nation by Air Force personnel deployed at Manas, many of whom volunteer their time to help with distribution and outreach efforts, said Major Elliot Safdie, who oversees humanitarian and other assistance programs for the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing.

On the tarmac was Senior Airman Dustin Harder, a mechanic with the Fairchild-based 141st National Guard Air Refueling Wing who is about half way through his first deployment to Manas. Harder, of Cheney, has been working 12-hour shifts, six days a week, inspecting and maintaining KC-135R engines.

“It aint too bad as long as you keep busy,” Harder said with a laugh.

Meanwhile, the Fairchild-based KC-135R joins about a dozen aerial tankers on the flightline at Manas and four C-17 Globemaster III cargo jets. The base serves as a supply hub for Afghanistan.

Tankers flying out of Manas deliver, on average, 750,000 pounds of fuel daily to combat jets and other aircraft operating over Afghanistan, said Major John Elolf.

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About this blog

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.


Colin Mulvany is a staff photographer for The Spokesman-Review.

David Wasson is a deputy city editor for The Spokesman-Review.

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