Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bagram is an Army Airfield and NOT an Air Base!

During the CNN analysis of the President’s speech last night (22 Jun 11)I noticed that the CNN correspondent on Bagram and the screen caption both identified his location as Bagram Air Base. As someone who has been there I can tell you that Bagram is NOT an Air Base or an Air Force Base. BAF, the official abbreviation, stands for Bagram Airfield. It is designated that because the base is run by the US ARMY and is currently occupied and maintained by the Combined Joint Task Force 1st Cavalry Division (CJTF-1), an Army division commanded by an ARMY major general and the base is managed by an ARMY Regional Support Command. The 1st Cav took the base over from the ARMY’s 101st Airborne Division in the first half of 2011. Granted, the flight line is managed by the USAF 455th Air Expeditionary Wing but the Air Force mission exists to support the ARMY there. (Even Wikipedia has their BAF entry correct)

This prompted me to look at some other websites to see how prevalent this error is and not to my surprise, it is not all that unusual. MSNBC, the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, Salon and a host of other “News organizations” all refer to BAF as either an Air Base or even an Air Force Base in all their coverage. Only FoxNews.com gets it correct most of the time although they even slip up on occasion.

Bottom line: If these guys don’t even know the basics like what BAF is, why should I trust anything else they have to say?

Just FYI – in the States AF bases are called Air Force Base (e.g. Andrews Air Force Base, Langley Air Force Base, etc.) while most overseas bases are just Air Base because they are normally shared with the host country (e.g. Misawa, Yakota & Kadena Air Base in Japan, Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Aviano Air Base in Italy). In the UK we are hosted on Royal Air Force Stations (e.g. RAF Mildenhall or RAF Lakenheath).