Balad Hub for Helicopter Drawdown

Airmen assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, are helping the Army move its helicopters out of Iraq as part of the drawdown of US combat forces there. Army Apaches, Blackhawks, and other helicopters from bases in northern Iraq are arriving at Balad to be inspected, prepped, and shipped out on Air Force C-5 or C-17 transports to new operating locations. “We have about 70 helicopters coming through here in just two weeks,” said SMSgt. Mark Farrington, special handling superintendent for the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Aerial Port team. US troop levels are scheduled to go down to about 50,000 personnel by the end of August, and all US operational forces are scheduled to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. (Balad report by SSgt. Stacy Fowler)