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JB Balad wraps up operations

Electric power production Airmen from the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, disassemble a mobile aircraft arresting system on the flightline of Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011.  JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment, and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Electric power production Airmen from the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron disassemble a mobile aircraft arresting system on the flightline of Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Electric power production Airmen from the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, disassemble the anchor plates of a mobile aircraft arresting system on the flight line of Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment, and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Electric power production Airmen from the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron disassemble the anchor plates of a mobile aircraft arresting system on the flightline of Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. In accordance with a 2008 security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, JB Balad was transitioned to the government of Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Vehicle maintainers inspect turned-in vehicles at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. More than 1,000 vehicles were inspected and redistributed as part of JB Balad’s closure. JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment, and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Vehicle maintainers inspect turned-in vehicles at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. More than 1,000 vehicles were inspected and redistributed as part of JB Balad’s closure. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Army Spc. Marisol Landin, health care specialist, right, Staff Sgt. Christopher Middlebrooks, laundry and showers NCO, left, and Spc. Theodore Gigrich, wheeled vehicle mechanic, organize boxes of food at the dining facility at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011.  With the release of food services contractors, Airmen and soldiers joined together at the dining facility to feed the troops during the closure of JB Balad.    JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment, and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. Landin is deployed from Fort Hood, Texas, and is from Jacksonville, Texas.  Middlebrooks is deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., and is from Edgewater Park, N.J. Gigrich is deployed from Fort Hood and is from Kalispell, Mont.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Army Spc. Marisol Landin, right, a health care specialist, Staff Sgt. Christopher Middlebrooks, left, a laundry and showers NCO, and Spc. Theodore Gigrich, a wheeled vehicle mechanic, organize boxes of food at the dining facility at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. With the release of food services contractors, Airmen and Soldiers joined together at the dining facility to feed the troops during the closure of JB Balad. Landin and Gigrich are deployed from Fort Hood, Texas. Middlebrooks is deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Master Sgt. Melody Goitom, dining facility manager, prepares food at the dining facility at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. With the release of food services contractors, Airmen and soldiers joined together at the dining facility to feed the troops during the closure of JB Balad.  JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment, and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. Goitom is deployed from Misawa Air Base, Japan, and is from Detroit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Master Sgt. Melody Goitom, a dining facility manager, prepares food at the dining facility at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. With the release of food services contractors, Airmen and Soldiers joined together at the dining facility to feed the troops during the closure of JB Balad. Goitom is deployed from Misawa Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Senior Airman Roxanne Chambers, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing cyber transporter, takes inventory of turned-in flat panel monitors at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment, and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. Chambers if deployed from the 232nd Combat Communications Squadron at Montgomery, Ala. Air National Guard, and is from Elmore Ala.    (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Senior Airman Roxanne Chambers, a 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing cyber transporter, takes inventory of turned-in flat panel monitors at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. Chambers is deployed from the 232nd Combat Communications Squadron with the Alabama Air National Guard in Montgomery. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Airmen of the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron take down a T-wall from the hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011.  JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment, and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Airmen of the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron take down a T-wall from the hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Oct. 15, 2011. JB Balad has disassembled units, turned in equipment and shut down services to transition the base to the Iraqi government. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (AFNS) -- What was once a bustling hub for U.S. operations in Iraq has now transitioned into a quiet and empty shell of its former self.

In accordance with a 2008 security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, Joint Base Balad was transitioned to the government of Iraq and the U.S. military presence has vanished.

Brig. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, said he was extremely satisfied with the work Airmen at JB Balad have done with transitioning the base while maintaining operations until the final days.

"I'm most proud of the way our Airmen at the 332nd AEW rose to the challenge of dealing with combat operations while simultaneously being agile enough to thin out capabilities," Neubauer said. "We've turned JB Balad over to the Iraqis in good working order and that was inspirational."

The transition was an eight-month operation that included many base entities.

"The closure has created a supportive mission between squadrons," said Lt. Col. Terry Walter, the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "You can't take any piece of the base away without affecting another part of the mission."

As part of the transition, the 332nd ECES moved more than 400 short tons of generators and construction equipment. More than 1,000 vehicles and 12,000 pieces of computer equipment were also redistributed.

"This was a centerpiece to the transition out of Balad," said 1st Lt. Nate Kane, the 332nd Expeditionary Communications Squadron officer in charge of transition logistics. "All the pieces of equipment that made the communications footprint function transitioned through here."

Kane said equipment such as computers, printers, scanners, monitors and telephones were all sent to other U.S. Central Command installations for further use.

In addition to redistributing communications equipment, JB Balad Airmen at the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron processed all vehicles on base as part of the transition.

"Like any other equipment, the base cannot transition without these vehicles being transferred to the Iraqi government or shipped out to one of 30 deployed locations," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Lorow, the 332nd ELRS vehicle maintenance superintendent.

According to Lorow, all vehicles were given a four-hour inspection to check for function capabilities and ensure they were both mechanically and cosmetically serviceable.

"We had people here until the last day," Lorow said. "The Iraqi government didn't want to come into a junkyard and we made sure that didn't happen."

During the course of the U.S. operations in Iraq, JB Balad provided top cover for U.S. and coalition forces. F-16 Fighting Falcons, C-130 Hercules, MC-12 Liberties, HH-60 rescue helicopters and MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted vehicles all once called JB Balad home. It was the second largest installation in Iraq and housed the Air Force Theater Hospital, which boasted a 98 percent survival rate for the more than 35,000 U.S. troops who were treated here.

"Over the course of the more than eight years at JB Balad, Airmen have done something very special and worthy," Neubauer said. "There were some very challenging circumstances to overcome here, and I want our countrymen to appreciate the sacrifices of our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines and be proud of them."

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