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.
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David Trilling is the Central Asia Coordinator for EurasiaNet.