Col Adrienne Williams, 387th Air Expeditionary Group (AEG) Commander, and CMSgt Charles Lane, 387th AEG Command Chief, cut the ribbon to signify the official opening of Cargo City during the Cargo City Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, which took place near the Kuwait International Airport, May 19, 2019. USAF photo by TSgt Robert Cloys
Col Williams and CMSgt Lane shake hands after they cut the ribbon signifying the official opening of Cargo City. USAF photo by TSgt Robert Cloys
TSgt Aimee Bravo, 387th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, emcees the Cargo City Ribbon Cutting Ceremony near the Kuwait International Airport, May 19, 2019. USAF photo by TSgt Robert Cloys
By MR. MATTHEW LIPTAK, Staff Writer
“Cargo City is AFCENT’s [U.S. Air Forces Central Command] busiest aerial port of debarkation and is critical to supporting cargo movement throughout the AOR [area of responsibility]. Cargo City, as it stands, is a temporary solution as part of a much larger vision to fully integrate Kuwaiti and U.S. capability on West Mubarak,” said Col Gage Handy, Commander, 387th Air Expeditionary Group (AEG), Cargo City, Kuwait.
The facility opened on May 19, 2019, as an interim solution to the closing of Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base in Kuwait as a base of operations due to the commercial expansion of adjacent Kuwait International Airport. Cargo City will be used for U.S. coalition forces until the construction of the new West Al-Mubarak Air Base is complete.
West Al-Mubarak Air Base’s construction was underway concurrently with the commercial expansion of the airport, but progress on the airport work went faster than expected, and both the coalition forces and two other Kuwaiti air bases were given one year to vacate.
Cargo City as an interim location may not have been part of the original plan, but due to need and on an abbreviated timeline, the United States and its Kuwaiti partners joined forces to quickly establish a strategy for the way forward. More than 20 groups had to coordinate to make the planning for Cargo City a success. Regular meetings, attended by at least 50 people from various Kuwaiti entities, were consistently scheduled to keep participants informed and to ensure that the project milestones were achieved.
The new location is expected to be well suited for the task at hand, with 150,000 square meters of cantonment space, of which 33,000 square meters were allocated for the United States. Work to complete the facility called for 1.24 million cubic meters of fill. The effort required roughly 400 trucks to haul soil and rock to the site every day for almost four months.
The transfer of operations to the newly created Cargo City moved cargo and troop debarkation farther west to an empty cement ramp not originally connected to any runway but still at Kuwait International Airport.
When the move from Cargo City to the new West Mubarak Air Base is complete, the interim Cargo City facility is expected to be used as a permanent cargo holding area for the Kuwaiti airport—the original plan for that section of the airport.
“Cargo City is the Gateway,” said Lt Col Matthew S. Vogel, former Deputy Commander of the 5th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron (EAMS), Cargo City, Kuwait. “This location is vital to the U.S. military, as it provides surge capacity for all military branches in all scenarios which occur in and around the AOR. Additionally, Cargo City is the central location for Army and Air Force personnel within Kuwait to process arriving and departing troops, which then continue to all locations within Central Command.”
Vogel related that the biggest challenge of getting Cargo City up and running was making sure the requirements of the USAF were understood and carried out by the non-U.S. agencies and contractors. When the date to start operating at Cargo City was set, they had only a short time to end operations in the old facility and transfer them to the new one.
Col Adrienne Williams, former Commander of the 387 AEG said, “As with any major move, there are many opportunities to succeed. The Airmen of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW), 387 AEG, and 5 EAMS had to think outside of the box constantly, finding innovative solutions to each problem set encountered. This particular base shutdown was very sensitive due to the fact that we were located on a host nation Air Force Base, which, in return, was located on the international airport.”
The significance of creating a major U.S. Coalition debarkation point that required a mosaic of players to come together in a short period of time is widely recognized. The whole experience of creating Cargo City was a positive one that has reinforced the strong, ongoing, successful relationship between the United States and Kuwait.
“It is truly spectacular to be part of this historic move, a move towards the future highlighting the progress developing all around us,” said Williams. “The new location will continue to build upon our lasting friendships and bonds, ensuring the strong partnership between the United States and Kuwait for generations to come.”