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US Airforce admits that they did not have sufficient Firefighters at Fairford

Andy Newman | 16.02.2004 14:56 | Anti-militarism | Oxford

US Airforce admits that they did not have sufficient Firefighters at RAF Fairford during the war last year. Air refuelling tankers + 700 troops will be in Fairford March to Sept this year.

US forces newspaper, the Stars and Stripes recently reported that the 100th Air Refuelling Wing normally based at RAF Mildenhall will be transferred to RAF Fairford just outside Swindon along with 700 USAF personnel, while runway construction is completed at Mildenhall. The visitors will be in Fairford between March and September 2004. It will cost between £4-6 million to move the aircraft, their crew and support staff for the 25- week closure.

At the same time the US Airforce admits that they did not have sufficient Firefighters at RAF Fairford during the war last year, an issue they are now addressing through the creation of a new air base group that will include Fairford, under the command of U.S. Air Force Col. J.R. Smith. During the war, the B-52s flying from RAF Fairford flew 122 missions, a total of 1,600 flying hours in 33 days. They dropped 3.2 million pounds of munitions. (source Stars and Stripes) This is 1600 million tons of high explosives that were transported though Swindon roads by lorry from the arms base at RAF Wellsford on the M4 near Newbury.

The following is our press release to the local paper - which is why it elevates the safety of Swindon to being the main issure - but it is a relevant point. Given that the war was widely advertised in advance, the Iraqi army could have landed a commando group in the UK prior to hostilities. Given the way peace protestors were able to get in fairford, ot tail the arms convoys, imagine what the republican guard could have done!

Secretary of Swindon Stop the War Coalition, Andy Newman, comments. “I think many people will be alarmed to learn that the US Air force did not have enough firefighters while they were flying 1600 million tons of high explosives out of Fairford! The safety of Swindon was never considered during the war, all of these high explosives were transported though our streets by lorry during the war. What would have happened if Iraqi soldiers had attacked these convoys, something they were legally entitled to do during a war? Was Tony Blair prepared for Swindon to be “collateral damage”!

Swindon Stop the War Coalition also opposes the refuelling tankers being moved to Fairford The US air force is spending £15 million pounds expanding Mildenhall – they would only be doing that if they are planning more and bigger wars in the future. That money should be spent on reconstruction for the shattered countries of Afghanistan and Iraq.”

By the way – The swindon evening advertiser poll showing 88% opposition to war in Feb 2003 was read in the Whitehouse, because it was reported in Stars and Stripes, distributed to all serving US forces personnel, all congressmen, and the Commander in Chief!
Stars and Stripes - 5 March 2003. From that article: More B-52 bombers arrive at British air base. “Their arrival suggests there is an imminence of war,” said Andy Newman, a resident of nearby Swindon and a war opponent. … The arrival of the planes — as symbolic as it is significant — has brought out hundreds of protesters, according to British media. … "We’re quite upset about it,” said Newman, a member of the Stop the War Coalition. “Support for the war is very low here.” Newman said a local newspaper polled readers last month to gauge residents’ support for the war. The poll found that 88 percent of respondents are opposed to war with Iraq at this time.

check my sources:

How much stuff got dropped from Fairford

Stars and tripes admits there were insufficient firefighters at Fairford!

Original story about relocation of Midenhall in 2002, Cambridge News (courtesy CAAB)

Andy Newman
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