The accuracy of U.S. bombardment in the past is plainly on display at the Ahmed Al Jaber air base, where all the hardened hangars were pierced in the air campaign in January and February 1991, when this base was occupied by Iraq.
U.S. jets have been stationed here continuously since 1994 to enforce the "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq. But the contingent has doubled since November, in a buildup begun after Iraq's decision to expel American members of U.N. weapons inspection teams and bar inspection of Iraqi "presidential sites." Six F-117As were sent then; the other six arrived Tuesday.
As for the 1,300 U.S. Air Force personnel stationed at the base: Their living quarters are divided among semi-permanent, prefabricated dormitories and tents, all of which have heat and air conditioning, and most are equipped with satellite television. They work 12- to 14-hour days, six days a week, maintaining ties with their families through telephones and e-mail.
They are barred under the rules put in effect after the Khobar Towers bombing--which killed 19 U.S. service personnel in June 1996 in Saudi Arabia--from leaving their compound. It is surrounded by an earthen wall and watchtowers even though it is within the larger Kuwaiti air base.
Their dining hall, the "Hog Rock Cafe," serves tacos and cheeseburgers. In their spare time, the U.S. personnel jog and lift weights, challenge the Kuwaiti airmen to soccer and watch recent movies piped in by satellite.