US Armed Forces Camp Stronghold Freedom / Uzbeckistan Karshi-Khanabad Air Base K2 Operation ENDURING FREEDOM
This coin is 1 1/2 inches in diamater.
Between 2001 and 2005 seven thousand United States Department of Defense personnel were assigned to the base, also known as K2 and "Camp Stronghold Freedom", for support missions against al-Qaeda in neighbouring Afghanistan. The 416th Air Expeditionary Group was the host unit. On July 29, 2005, amid strained relations caused by the May 2005 unrest in Uzbekistan, the United States was told to vacate the base within six months. It was vacated by the United States in November 2005.
In November 2001, the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine-Europe performed an environmental baseline survey and found widespread jet fuel plumes, usually 1–3 meters under ground, most likely from a leaking Soviet-era underground fuel distribution system and smaller, localized areas of surface dirt contaminated with asbestos and low-level radioactive processed uranium, both from the destruction of Soviet missiles several years prior.
United States Armed Forces veterans who served at the base while it was used by the U.S. military described "black goo" oozing out of the soil, appearing to be a mixture of solvents, oils and other chemicals. Noxious vapors were also reported, along with radiation warning signs and a nearby pond that glowed green. Rainwater would reportedly flood tents and appeared contaminated with various chemicals. According to a 2015 Army study, 61 of the K2 veterans had been diagnosed with cancer or died of the disease, not counting the special operations forces. The United States Department of Veteran's Affairs and U.S. Army Public Health Center had denied that an increased rate of cancers exists or that any contamination at the base posed any serious health problems. The US military took steps to reduce possible sources of contamination, such as filling trenches with soil to create a cap to hold vapors underground, covering radioactive soil and asbestos, which were criticized as ineffective by veterans.
On November 18, 2020, the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on "Karshi-Khanabad: Honoring the Heroes of Camp Stronghold Freedom". A fact sheet was released detailing the health risks at the camp:
- Petrochemical Contamination and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) and Tetrachloroethylene
- Burn Pits
- Radiation exposure
As of the November 2020 hearing, the Department of Veteran's Affairs denied that the illnesses suffered by veterans at K2 suffered were service-connected.