USAF Patch Airlift USAFE o Operation Provide Comfort I Iraq 1991
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USAF Patch Airlift USAFE o Operation Provide Comfort I Iraq 1991

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USAF Patch USAFE Military Airlift Command MAC Combined Task Force CTF Operation Provide Comfort I Iraq 1991 C 130 Incirlik AB Turkish Made Fully embroidered cut edge 98mm by 91mm three and seven eighth inches by three and one half inches.

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Following the success of evicting Iraqi forces from Kuwait with Operation Desert Storm Kurds of northern Iraq rose up against Saddam Hussein in March 1991 with his armed forces in disarray taking over a number of towns. The Iraqi army responded and crushed the rebellion leading to more than one million refugees headed north to the mountains of Iran and Turkey. Conditions deteriorated rapidly as crowds grew with no food water or shelter and winter conditions in the mountains. With the Iraqi Army in pursuit over a million Kurds had fled Iraq with 800000 in Iran 300000 in south east Turkey and 100000 along the Turkish Iraq border by 2 April 1001. With reports of civilian casualties in the mountains growing to 1000 per day the coalition pressed the UN to allow intervention. The United Nations passed resolution 688 on 5 April 1991 condemning Iraqi repression and asked member states to assist the Kurds and other refugees in northern Iraq with a demand for Iraq to cooperate with these relief efforts. President Bush ordered the US Forces to direct immediate relief assistance. 

Joint Task Force Provide Comfort formed on 6 April 1991 and deployed to Incirlik Air Base Turkey to conduct humanitarian operations in northern Iraq. With the arrival of British and French cargo aircraft on 7 April 1991 JTF Provide Comfort was redesignated Combined Task Force Provide Comfort. With its first supply drops carried out on 7 April 1991 and culminated in a coalition of 13 nations with material contributions from 30 countries working under the command and control of the Coalition Task Force with the main participants the US UK France and Turkey. On 16 April 1991 the US President authorized the expansion of Operation Provide Comfort to include multinational forces establishing temporary refuge camps in northern Iraq and on 17 April, when it had become apparent that a ground presence in northern Iraq was necessary to establish a secure safe zone. Joint Task Force Alpha manned by elements of 10th Special Forces SF Group with its HQ in in Silopi was established in the mountains of south east Turkey to stabilizing the situation. JTF Bravo manned by 24 Marine Expeditionary Unit MEU prepared the town of Zakho in Iraq for the incoming Kurds and facilitate their eventual transfer back to their homes.

CTF air forces operating from Incirlik AB enforced a no fly zone above the 36th parallel and provided cover for forces on the ground. To discourage Iraqi forces USAF A 10 and RAF Harrier ground attack aircraft flew with the cargo aircraft while delivering supplies. USAF F 15 and F 16 air defence fighters provided cover against the Iraqi air force controlled by E 3 AWACS and refuelled by KC 135 tankers.

A forward airstrip opened in Iraq in late April. Most of the CTF military ground forces relocated from Iraq and the UN assumed responsibility for the refugee camps. A military coordination centre remained in Iraq to liaise between the armed forces and civilian relief workers and a residual air force element retained in Turkey to enforce the no fly zone.

Operation Provide Comfort I was concluded on 24 July 1991 having supplied 6154 short tons of supplies by airdrop 6251 tons by helicopter and a further 4416 tons by truck. The military mission was to prevent Iraqi aggression against the Kurds continued with Operation Provide Comfort II which commenced on the same day with occasional air combat and bombing missions undertaken until 31 December 1996 with Operation Northern Watch to enforce the northern no fly zone commencing on 1 January 1997.

This patch dates from 1991.








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