Camp Shorabak (formerly Camp Bastion) is an Afghan Ministry of Defense airbase located northwest of the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The base has barracks for the Afghan National Army.
Between 2005 and October 2014 it was the logistics hub for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Helmand during the War in Afghanistan and Operation Herrick, and it was capable of accommodating over 32,000 people.
The camp was built by the British Army and was the largest British overseas military camp built since the Second World War. The base was also home to troops from a number of nations, including the United States of America and Denmark.
Shorabak contains the Afghan National Army (ANA) camp (also called Camp Shorabak), and also held Camp Leatherneck until 2014.
In November 2006, the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Camp Bastion, and, while addressing a gathering of British troops, described it as an "extraordinary piece of desert ... where the fate of world security in the early 21st century is going to be decided".
Camp Shorabak began life as Camp Bastion a Tactical Landing Zone set up by two Air Traffic Controllers from the Royal Air Force's Tactical Air Traffic Control Unit. This provided a vital and strategic insertion point in Helmand Province and unbeknownst to the two controllers, was to be the foundations for Camp Shorabak.
The camp started out with just a few tents in 2005 however from early 2006 personnel from 39 Engineer Regiment Royal Engineers and various contracting firms, all under the supervision of 62 Works Group Royal Engineers started to build the base with more robust facilities, the camp was situated in a remote desert area, far from population centres. Four miles long by two miles wide, it had a busy airfield and a field hospital and originally had full accommodation for the 2000 men and women.
The base was originally named by the Commanding Officer of 62 Works Group (RE) based upon the unit's emblem of a lone Bastion; Hesco Bastion. The first camp to be built was Camp 251 which housed the construction force and they were housed in tents.
The first runway capable of landing C-17's direct from the United Kingdom opened in Camp Bastion on 3 December 2007.
The base had previously been divided into a number of different sections (bastions). Bastions 1 and 2 were the first, with Bastion 2 containing Camp Barber (US) and Camp Viking (DK). Bastion 0 was added in around 2010 and housed the contractors and Bastion 3 was used for in-theatre training.
Camp Bastion included Bastion Airfield, Bastion Garrison and Camp Leatherneck.
As of September 2014 it was reported that both Bastion 2 & 3 have been reverted to desert.
Camp Bastion airfield and heliport handled up to 600 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft movements every day in 2011, operating combat, medical and logistics flights. Its air traffic controllers were integral to the support of the UK's operations in southern Afghanistan and the Air Traffic Control Squadron at Camp Bastion was the first to recruit and train US Marines to UK air traffic control standards.
In February 2014, snow fell in Camp Bastion for the first time since the base was established, eight years earlier.
The camp was handed over to the control of the Afghan security forces on 26 October 2014.
On 27 November 2014, insurgents infiltrated Camp Bastion. As of Sunday 30 November, the Afghan National Army had not fully driven out the "Taliban" fighters. At least five ANA soldiers were killed in the attack.
Upon completion of British and US military withdrawal from Camp Bastion, it was renamed Camp Shorabak as this was the name of the Afghan base situated there.
In December 2015, it was announced that a small contingency of British troops would return to Camp Shorabak in an advisory role, due to the Taliban overrun of Sangin district in Helmand province.
The base was initially home to the Afghan National Army and during Operation Herrick 7 2nd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment's Battlegroup HQ.
The main user of the camp was the United Kingdom which based a number of rotary and a few fixed-wing aircraft.
During June 2011 a brand new air traffic control tower was opened which was built by 170 Engineer Group.
The main aviation unit was No. 903 Expeditionary Air Wing which operated the Raytheon Sentinel R1 - Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) along with AgustaWestland Apaches, Westland Sea Kings and Thales Watchkeepers.
This was supplemented by both No. 1310 Flight RAF which operated Boeing Chinooks and No. 1419 Flight RAF with AgustaWestland Merlins. Both helicopter types performed troop and cargo moves but the Chinook also carried the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) and Incident Response Teams (IRT).
The UK had a large number of major units based here:Crew Training School (for vehicles).
Joint Force Support (Afghanistan).
Joint Force Medical Group.
Joint Media Operations Centre.
Joint Theatre Education Centre.
Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit .
Theatre Logistic Group.
A number of smaller units were also deployed here including:Base Security
OP H 19 - A Company - The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland
Joint ISTAR Group (brigade surveillance and reconnaissance support)
OP H 19 - 9th/12th Royal Lancers
Units based at Bastion
OP H 7 - 40 Commando Battlegroup HQ
OP H 19 - 4 SCOTS
OP H 20 - 26th Regiment RA
The base was protected by the Bastion Force Protection Wing as part of the multi-national Task Force Belleau Wood.
During August 2013 the Headquarters of Task Force Helmand moved from Lashkar Gah to Bastion.
In 2013, a training school for Afghan troops was opened.
By March 2014, the population of the camp had reduced to 4,000 UK service personnel, as preparations were well-underway for UK military withdrawal from Helmand in October 2014.
During the dismantling of the base the scrap metal was taken away by ProCon Building Materials Trading LLC.
The United States Military used part of Bastion Airfield for their aircraft and they had their own camp within Camp Bastion until 26 October 2014.
The last unit was the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) which began operating from April 2014. It consisted of:Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 (HMLA-467) which operated Bell AH-1W SuperCobra's and Bell UH-1Y Venom's.
Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 (MWSS-274) from 7 April 2014.
Camp Shorabak has been used by various countries including Denmark (until 20 May 2014), Estonia (until 9 May 2014) and Tonga (until 28 April 2014).
Camp Shorabak's Hospital was built by 170 Engineer Group and was operated by regular and reserve personnel of the British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force of the Joint Force Medical Group, as well as medical assets from the US Army. Medical staff included Orthopaedic Surgeons, General Surgeons, Anaesthetists, Nurses and Medics. The hospital was the location to which wounded military personnel from the British, US and other ISAF forces in Helmand Province were evacuated from the battlefield for treatment, supported by US Army, Navy, and Air Force medics, or from which they were further evacuated to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Afghan nationals were also treated at the hospital in many circumstances including accidental injuries and road traffic collisions. The hospital was closed down on 22 September 2014.
A number of units were deployed to Afghanistan and worked at the hospital:
Home to 4th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps.
The base has been attacked several times including on 14 September 2012, when two United States Marine Corps (USMC) service personnel were killed and six USMC McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs were destroyed and two were "significantly damaged." Three refuelling stations were also destroyed, with six soft-skin aircraft hangars damaged. Of the 15 Taliban attackers, 14 were killed and 1 captured.
In May 2013 the BBC obtained documents showing that up to 85 Afghan nationals were being detained at Camp Shorabak. Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, has confirmed that the UK is holding "80 or 90 Afghan detainees" at the base. The Ministry of Defence maintains the detention of the Afghans is legal.Group Captain Tony Innes (2013-2014).
Deputy Commander John Lyle (June 2013 – December 2013)
Jeff Portlock (August 2012 – February 2013)
Group Captain John Cunningham (Unknown-September 2010)
Colonel Angus Mathie (Dec 2009 - June 2010)
Camp Shorabak has been featured in several documentaries, often focusing on medical evacuations.The Air Hospital (Channel 4) - aired 25 March 2010.
Frontline Medicine (BBC 2) - aired 20 and 27 November 2011.
Extraordinary Dogs (Documentary Channel).
Prince Harry: Frontline Afghanistan (BBC Three) - aired 28 January 2013.
Gary Barlow: Journey to Afghanistan (ITV) - aired 23 December 2013.
Top Gear (BBC2) - aired 9 February 2014.
The Billion Pound Base: Dismantling Camp Bastion (Channel 4) - aired 7 December 2014.
The One Show - Afghanistan: Coming Home (BBC1) - Series of films on redeployment of 2RTR soldiers and equipment from Camp Bastion. Filmed in September/November 2013. Narrated by Dan Snow and Tony Livesey. - aired January 2014.