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FOL Manta provides facility orientation

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Beth Woodward
  • 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron Public Affairs
From June 1-4, personnel of Forward Operating Location Manta (FOL) at Eloy Alfaro Air Base in Manta, Ecuador, provided a special orientation to over 100 Ecuadorian Air Force and civil aviation officials.

The orientation was designed to give government of Ecuador personnel an overview of the buildings, systems and equipment that will transfer to their hands in September. The immersion program was not a requirement of the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Ecuador.

Contract employees of the FOL, who provide a broad range of support to counternarcotics operations at the FOL, conducted the orientation.

"We want the incoming occupants to understand the types of systems they will inherit from the FOL, and we are making available the tools they need to operate safely during the transition," said Mr. Jaime Jimenez, ITT Corporation site manager at FOL Manta. 

FOL technicians walked the group through over 20 locations, including fire protection systems, electrical and lighting systems, sewer systems, water plants, dining facility equipment, and dormitory security systems. While the orientation did not certify the visitors nor train them on equipment specifics, the FOL has provided manuals, which outline day-to-day equipment and systems operations, to the government of Ecuador. 

"In many cases, the expertise of FOL employees has benefited all the users of the Manta airfield," said Maj. Bryan Shumway, FOL Manta director of operations. "As best we can, we hope to open our doors and prepare them for primary responsibility."

FOL Manta has served as a hub for U.S. counternarcotics air operations since 1999. Initially, the U.S. invested $71 million in construction and infrastructure improvements, including a 750-meter extension of the runway as well as repairs of the runway and the addition of state-of-the-art lighting.

The FOL occupies 27 hectares (five percent of the total area) of the Eloy Alfaro base. The FOL's 22 buildings, which were completed in 2002, will transfer to the Ecuadorian Air Force. These include dining and lodging facilities, office buildings, warehouses, an aircraft ramp, hangar and fire station.

Counterdrug flights from the FOL are scheduled to end in July of this year. In September 2009 the U.S. government plans to hand over to the Ecuadorian Air Force its permanent property at the FOL, such as buildings, warehouses, and the aircraft ramp and hangar, well in advance of the bilateral cooperation agreement's conclusion in November 2009.

FOL Manta last hosted Ecuadorian government leaders May 15 to provide information on the transition timeline and a tour of the facilities and equipment that will transfer to the Ecuadorian government later this year.