Air base handover in Middle East a historic moment
The former home of the ADF’s air operations in the Middle East has been handed over to the United States Air Force.
The transfer of Camp McNamara VC, which was established six years ago as a critical launch point in the fight against Da’esh, was formally recognised with a ceremony on October 16 following the final rotation of RAAF aircraft on September 9.
Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General Susan Coyle said the closing of the camp marked a historic moment for the ADF.
“Through the deployment of F/A-18 Hornets and F/A-18F Super Hornets to the final rotation of the E7 Wedgetail and KC-30A Tanker, Camp McNamara provided a critical hub for airborne operations,” Major General Coyle said.
“We still have embedded staff within our US-led coalition headquarters, however, with the handover of the facility, we finish another proud chapter in Australia’s operational history in the Middle East.
“That history has consistently been underwritten by the dedication and professionalism of the personnel who deployed to serve, and their families who enabled this to occur.”
Squadron Leader Kevin Lee was the last commander of Camp McNamara VC and the detachment commander in charge of the retrograde operation to return the base to its original condition.
He said dismantling the well established facility required detailed planning.
“All up, the planning was conducted over the month of August, and involved four task groups,” he said.
The 29-person team prepared about 73 tonnes of stores and equipment − from tow-motors and water trucks, to ground power units and generators − and about 20 tonnes of aircraft spare parts for return to Australia.
Squadron Leader Lee said the task was not simple.
“The dynamic nature of supporting concurrent operations while setting the condition for a retrograde operation was challenging in the initial phases,” he said.
“Added to this were the intricacies of coordinating elements from across different forces coupled with limited capabilities in Camp McNamara.
“It was challenging, but my team, affectionately known as ‘The A Team’, was highly motivated and took it all in their stride.”
Squadron Leader Lee said the Camp McNamara site would always be a small part of Australia.
“We have built an awesome reputation as professional air power, not only with our coalition partners, but also across the Middle East,” he said.
“The close working relationships we fostered with our coalition allies, in particular with the United States Air Force, reinforced our reputation as a professional and trusted partner.
“As the last commander of Camp McNamara VC, I am immensely proud of what we have achieved.”