What Is a BEAR Base and Considerations for Planning One?
- April 28, 2022
- Category: Alaska Defense Applications, Military, Military Shelter Systems
A BEAR base provides strategic shelter. But more than that, it provides the ability to deploy facilities, equipment, and personnel to support air operations with the same efficiency as a permanent installation.
The BEAR Necessities
Shorthand for Basic Expeditionary Airfield Resources, a BEAR base is a site with a usable runway, taxiways, and parking area capable of supporting the mission of any assigned aircraft. It must also have a water supply that could be made potable and infrastructure to house supporting personnel even in the most extreme environments.
Complete with shelters and support facilities, a BEAR base is designed to sustain combat operations just like a fixed theater installation. All facilities and equipment within a BEAR base package are designed to minimize weight and transport by aircraft.
A Rapidly Deployed Strategic Base
While many foreign nations are reluctant to allow the United States to build permanent bases in their countries, U.S. Forces must be ready to quickly deploy to locations that have basic airfield infrastructure and without relying on local resources be able to establish a base during contingency situations. A BEAR base answers these needs.
Mobile airbases were used extensively in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
An Instant City during the Afghan Refugee Crisis
The most recent demonstration of a BEAR base was Operation Allies Refuge (OAR) at the Air Force’s largest mobility hub, Ramstein Air Base (AB) in Germany.
This military operation was designed to airlift Afghan soldiers and civilians who assisted Allied Forces, particularly interpreters, their families, U.S. embassy employees, as well as prospective Special Immigrant Visa applicants from Afghanistan.
In the span of a few days, Ramstein AB was transformed into the primary evacuation hub for the U.S. European Command (EUCOM). More than 350 military tents from Alaska Defense™ (Alaska), the only authorized Small Shelter System for all U.S. Air Force BEAR packages, were deployed to create a “mini-city” to house arriving Afghan evacuees.
Planning a BEAR Base Resources
Formerly called the Bare Base Program, the U.S. Air Force changed the name to BEAR in 2002 to focus on supporting expeditionary missions and strategies.
The U.S. Air Force offers a Bare Base Conceptual Planning Course. This course is mandatory for Civil Engineer Officers and Non‐commissioned Officers with a seven‐skill level as outlined in Air Force Instruction 10‐210. The course covers how to develop operational plans as well as courses of action to effectively plan a base according to the standards established by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In 2012, the U.S. Air Force revised the Bare Base Conceptual Planning guide. In particular, the updated Bear Base pamphlet discusses replacing legacy (Harvest Eagle/Falcon) assets with BEAR packages and includes the management of assets from BEAR to BEAR Order of Battle (BOB).
The Most Widely Used Military Shelter System
The Alaska Small Shelter System® from Alaska Defense™ (Alaska) is an engineered military tent chosen by all branches of the U.S. Military, NATO Forces, and other Allied Forces around the world. More than 36,000 Alaska Military Shelters have been deployed since 1999.
The Alaska Small Shelter System is used to provide essential facilities to house, sustain, and support a wide range of operations. It is the only military shelter that has been tested and approved to meet all the requirements in the U.S. Air Force’s 1999 Operational Requirements Document (ORD).