Reflections on Airpower

Jason Koxvold and Dan Ryan

Since the Persian Gulf War in 1991 the United States Air Force has maintained a presence in the Middle East. As the various conflicts come and go that footprint has expanded or contracted throughout the region; yet a core group of locations, air frames and people have remained to carry out whatever mission exists at the time.

When I look at our presence in the Middle East, the word that comes to mind is “persistent.” It is this persistent presence that has led to the development of these sprawling bases you see in Jason Koxvold’s photographs.

A C-17 prepares for departure. (Jason Koxvold)

A member of USAF Security Forces guards one of the layers of defenses designed to slow incoming vehicles. (Jason Koxvold)

As a mobility pilot, I frequently travel across the region visiting the Air Force’s bases, from the largest like Al Udeid to small forward operating bases in remote parts of Afghanistan. Each airbase is a cog in the massive machine that works around the clock to provide air power in all forms to multiple areas of the region.

Inside a maintainers’ tent in Southwest Asia. (Jason Koxvold)

Officers’ quarters, known as "wet stacks." (Jason Koxvold)

With no end in sight to the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, or Afghanistan, these air bases will remain at their current state for the foreseeable future. Rarely does anyone not deployed to these locations have the chance to see the effort required to sustain the operational tempo our commitments have demanded for almost three decades.

These photographs provide a unique look into the locations and lives of airmen who are the foundation the operations conducted in support of America’s national interests.

A Davis-Monthan EC-130 Compass Call being prepared for flight. (Jason Koxvold)

Jason Koxvold is a Featured Contributor on The Strategy Bridge and a widely published photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. He has worked in every corner of the globe, from Arctic Russia to South Africa, China to Nigeria; his most recent deployment was with Operation Resolute Support in Kabul and Bagram. You can find his work in magazines including Newsweek Japan, Wired, Slate, and National Geographic Traveler. See Jason’s photographs at and follow him on Twitter at @jkoxvold.

Dan Ryan is an U.S. Air Force officer. He is an Associate Member of the Military Writers Guild. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Air Force.

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