Only an hour's flight time north of the Afghan border, last year over 170,000 coalition soldiers passed through Manas en route to Operation Enduring Freedom there. Many spend only a day or two housed in transient facilities. Manas, which first opened in December 2001, is also home to a squadron of American and French refueling tankers. In 2008, the base supported 3,294 refueling missions for 11,419 fighter aircraft over Afghanistan, disbursing 194,000,000 pounds of fuel.
David Trilling is the Central Asia Coordinator for EurasiaNet.