LOCATION: Republic of Turkey (Twelve miles east of Adana, Turkey; fourth largest city in the Republic)
MAJOR COMMAND: 39th Wing (USAFE)
39TH WING CORE VALUES: Integrity/Loyalty/Innovation/Courage/Competence/Teamwork
The 39th Wing conducts air combat and combat support operations and training on the front lines of NATO. Exercises operational control over assigned and deployed US units. Maintains and operates a US Air Forces in Europe weapons training site and, when activated, a Supreme Allied Command Europe Quick Reaction Alert Force. Provides operational, administrative, logistical, and medical support for US forces throughout Turkey. Incirlik has the only US tactical operation between Italy and the Far East. The air base maintains a peacetime commitment to aircrew training, war readiness and support to other NATO units within Turkey and the Middle East. In support of wide-ranging responsibilities, Incirlik hosts a number of activities with diverse missions. The 39th Wing is the senior unit with a variety of units with mission responsibilities ranging from security police and combat support, to supply, communications and comptroller. The 628th Airlift Support Squadron, under the Air Mobility Command, provides passenger and cargo service to destinations within Turkey, Europe and the United States.
Roughly translated Incirlik means "fig orchard." Back in December 1950, the Turkish and US Air Forces began work on a large new air base near the city of Adana, Turkey on the northern Mediterranean coast. Following the arrival of the 7216th Air Base Squadron's advance echelon late in 1954, the main contingent finally arrived at Adana Air Base from Wheelus Air Field in Libya in February 1955. The base's mission then was to support Strategic Air Command B-47s and other transient aircraft. Many significant events have taken place since 1958 when the installation became known as Incirlik Air Base, but Incirlik's role in the Middle East took on an even greater significance with the beginning of the Gulf War in August 1990. During that time, thousands of sorties were flown against Iraq in occupied Kuwait took place. Sorties left Incirlik's runway 24 hours a day in support of the Allied war effort. As Iraq continued its occupation of Kuwait in 1991, Incirlik played host to worldwide units of every service deployed here in direct support of Operation Desert Shield, and later, Desert Storm. Aircraft deployed to Incirlik began flying missions into Iraq on 17 January 1991. Following the war, Incirlik began supporting Operation Provide Comfort, 7 April 1991, when it served as the hub of humanitarian relief efforts destined for Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq. This operation was the largest humanitarian airlift since the Berlin Airlift. In view of Incirlik's growing importance in protecting NATO's front lines and its new central support role for all US units in Turkey, the 39th Tactical Group was redesigned and became the 39th Wing on 1 October 1993.
DEPLOYED FAMILY SUPPORT *OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH (ONW)
On April 5, 1991, President George Bush directed the start of Operation Provide Comfort (OPC). Within 36 hours, the first phase began; a mission of survival for the people of northern Iraq. On the first day of operations, April 7, 1991, OPC flew six airdrop missions from Incirlik Air Base,Turkey; sending 32,000 pounds of food, water, clothing, tents, and blankets to the refugees. By the seventh day, this figure grew to 1,727,200 pounds. OPC headquarters was established at Incirlik and has remained here throughout the operation.
On July 1, 1991, OPC's mission switched from one of supplying immediate life sustaining aid to one of deterring Iraqi aggression, monitoring compliance with UN security council resolutions, and enforcing the no-fly zone, measuring approximately 160 miles wide by 50 miles deep. Combined Task Force (CTF), now Operation Northern Watch (ONW), has two co-commanders, a U.S. and a Turkish brigadier general assigned to it. The British contingency is led by a coalition commander in the equivalent grade of colonel. ONW forces continue to fly fighter and armed reconnaissance missions into Iraq above the 36th parallel to demonstrate coalition resolve, prevent Iraqi encroachment into the security zone, and promote the security and stability of the people of northern Iraq. More than 50,000 sorties were flown in support of OPC through October 1995.