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Uzbekistan has placed limits on U.S. military use of a key air base serving Afghanistan, forcing temporary shifts in humanitarian and other support, the Defense Department said yesterday.
The U.S. military has shifted key operations out of the Central Asian republic, repositioning search and rescue planes in Afghanistan and routing heavy cargo flights through neighboring Kyrgyzstan, U.S. officials said.
The nighttime ban constitutes an unacceptable condition for HC-130 aircraft, which are used for search and rescue as well as tanker operations and therefore must be available to fly at all hours, officials said. Consequently, the aircraft have been relocated to Afghanistan's Bagram air base, near Kabul.
But ramp space and especially fuel at Bagram are limited, one senior officer said. Fuel must be trucked to the base across narrow mountain passes which can become blocked during winter, he noted. Further, the HC-130s' maintenance facilities remain in Uzbekistan, complicating service.
Heavy cargo planes, meanwhile, which had been disgorging tons of military supplies and humanitarian assistance at the Uzbek air base for shipment into Afghanistan, are now being diverted to Manas in Kyrgyzstan. Because Manas is hundreds of miles farther from Afghanistan, the change has meant longer and costlier trips for trucks that pick up the goods, officials said.
Uzbekistan curtails use of base for U.S. flights
A statement from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said the restrictions were imposed three months before the suppression of the rioting in Andijan "for the reasons that the American side is well aware of,"
Uzbekistan denies restrictions on U.S. air base are retaliation
"Following the logic of the American mass media, the conclusion should be that the events in Andijan was a consequence of - not a reason for - Uzbekistan's decision to restrict the American military flights," the statement said.
airforcetimes February 14, 2005
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Kyrgyzstan’s foreign minister said on Monday that the government has turned down a U.S. request to deploy AWACS radar planes in the country after consultations with regional allies, including Russia and China.
MSNBC April 4, 2005
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, who fled the country last month after demonstrators stormed his offices, signed a resignation agreement Monday, a Kyrgyz lawmaker said.
Originally posted by AceOfBase
Time to start paying attention to Uzbekistan. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a COUP in the near future.