As tension overseas increases, USAF shifts Middle East command center from Qatar to US

The Combined Air And Space Operations Center at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar sits empty after operations were briefly shifted to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. (Senior Airman Sean Campbell/U.S. Air Force)

The US Air Force is moving its Middle East Command Center out of the Middle East, setting their sights for the greener pastures of, well, South Carolina.

Previously stationed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the USAF has now moved its control operations to Shaw Air Force Base, over 7,000 miles away from the front lines of America’s seemingly endless conflicts in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

The move was a historical one, ending a US command and control presence in the Middle East for the first time since the Persian Gulf War.

The decision to move was made after the amid renewed tension with Iran, which is only a hundred or so miles from the former base.

“The functions that the [command and control center] provides for air power are so critical and so essential that we can’t afford to have a single point of failure,” said Maj. Gen. Chance Saltzman.

According to the Stars and Stripes, Iran’s threats to strike US assets in the region made moving a critical command center an easy decision.

“Iran has indicated multiple times through multiple sources their intent to attack US forces,” said Col. Frederick Coleman, commander of the 609th Air and Space Operations Center. “Frankly, as the war against ISIS winds down and as we continue to work through a potential peace process in Afghanistan, the region is calming down and potentially more stable than it has been in decades. Except for Iran.”

With even the most capable missile defense systems unable to stop every threat from hitting the base, simply moving the base out of harm’s way seemed to be the most sensible option.

“It’s really probably better to think about this as an immune system,” he said. “There’s going to be germs that get into the body. It’s about how fast and how resilient you can fight it off.”

Fiscally speaking, the move back to America is a financially prudent one.

“The goodness here is now we’re saving taxpayer dollars that we’re giving back to America,” Coleman said. “And, you know, America’s sons and daughters aren’t abroad in the Middle East. They’re home.”

While some functions of the base cannot be utilized remotely around 800 positions will be moved to Shaw AFB.

For Coleman, it’s all about bringing Americans home- and being able to work from their own country, no matter where the threats are.

“Eventually,” he jested, “I’d like to be able to do this from Starbucks.”

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8 thoughts on “As tension overseas increases, USAF shifts Middle East command center from Qatar to US

  1. Nice ops room there. I hear the barracks is a moldy shithole that is a health hazard because every base commander there is too lazy to fix the problem.

  2. That’s so weird because I’m definitely still deployed here working at the CAOC…guess reality hasn’t caught up to the news yet!

  3. Anon,
    You’re right, The Died is a moldy shithole brimming with Chief’s who had nothing better to do than to run across an area (delightfully labeled “the bra” because the AF felt it was a good idea to build a structure resembling breasts in a deployed location and then court martial anyone who joked about it later as “sexual harassers”)- anyhoo I digress, these chiefs would yell at you from across the bra about your sunglasses having a logo on them or something dumb.
    Turns out taxpayers have been footing the bill for ages to have these tools deployed there as THEIR ONLY JOB. Not even kidding…
    And… why are we in Qatar anyhow? Oh yeah for higher ranking individuals to have all of the pomp and circumstance of their entourage “deployed” with them and airman setting up banquets for them and serving them like little Roman slaves while everyone else lived in the mold. Got it.
    How is your retainability doing, Air Force?

  4. That is just nuts. Yeah, I’ve been hearing a lot of stories lately about people being deployed, not having a job when they get there, and then being pressured to do personal errands and chores for the higher-ups. When I was in the Navy, we were instructed that that is a huge no-no and if anybody senior tries to get you to run their laundry, shine their shoes, or any of that crap, run it up the chain immediately. The Navy sucks for 1000 reasons but at least we weren’t doing THAT. I would leave the military over that shit and tell everybody far and wide, including the IG, I didn’t join up to be the colonel’s party planner.

  5. Funny how the higher ups still think that they are living in a bygone age where officers and NCOs had a batman to take care of their gear and run their errands. No wonder why they have a hard time trying to adjust in civilian life in even doing the simplest things like cooking their meals, cleaning their own clothes or taking them to the laundry, etc.

  6. I guess they like the lavish lifestyle; however, once the bullets start flying, they have to rough it out in the field which they don’t want to do.

  7. This is way too common in today’s Air Force. Colonels saw their senior leaders doing this back in the 90s amd now expect the same treatment from a much smaller force. It’s wasteful. At the same time, Squadron commanders all think they deserve a secretary to manage their calendar. You don’t see that in business for small organizations, but the military keeps wasting money on it.

    Speaking of wasteful manning models, why is there a full time SARC for every 1,000 airmen? At joint bases why are there two or more separate SARC offices instead of one for the DoD level program?

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