New Liberandos Lair morale center opens
08/11/2008 - MANAS AIR BASE, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC -- U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven Sabia logs onto a morale computer in the Liberandos Lair, a morale and recreation center that opened here, Aug. 11. The 3,800 sq. foot center houses morale computers and phones, movie theaters and a game room. It was built to alleviate congestion in Manas AB's existing morale centers and make coalition servicemembers' stay at Manas more enjoyable while they are transiting in and out of Afghanistan. Colonel Sabia, who was heading home after 13 months in Afghanistan, was the first patron to use the center minutes after the ribbon cutting ceremony. (Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Ruth Holcomb)
New morale and recreation center opens for transiting forces

by Maj. Damien Pickart
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/13/2008 - MANAS AIR BASE, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC -- Manas stepped up its red carpet treatment for coalition forces transiting in and out of Afghanistan with the opening of a 3,800 sq. foot morale and recreation center, Aug. 11.

"The opening of the Liberandos' Lair further solidifies the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's commitment to its 'Warrior Care' effort," said Col. Christopher Bence, 376th AEW commander. "This year-long effort is the culmination of the dreams and hard work of those who wanted to make life better for the men and women who have served in Afghanistan or are going there. This simple structure represents our way of saying thank you for what you do."

The concrete and steel building, situated centrally between six enormous lodging tents and a combined laundry/shower and hardened restroom facility, helps to improve the temporary living conditions of coalition personnel entering and leaving Afghanistan through Manas. It contains two 27-seat movie theaters with surround-sound systems, a bank of morale computers and telephones, and a game room with gaming computers and a pool table and fooze ball tables. The center also houses Manas' third WiFi hot spot.

"The effort to bring this center to reality involved a lot of people working together, including the communication squadron, contracting, civil engineers and the force support squadron," said Maj. Michael Coleman, 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron commander. "It increases our capability to support personnel transiting through here and augments what we currently had to offer with Pete's Place and Shooters. It's been really exciting to see the progress since I arrived in May when it was an empty shell of a building and now it's fully operational."

The Liberandos' Lair is the third recreation and morale center to open at Manas in recent years. It was built to relieve congestion in the other two during periods when large numbers of transient personnel are rotating through. The project was begun in June 2007 and much of the construction was accomplished by local Kyrgyz contractors. The total cost for the facility was $350,000, of which nearly $30,000 was funded by profits on sales of products in the other two recreation centers.

"This facility is open to everyone at Manas, but especially for the servicemembers passing through," said Master Sgt. August Sena, 376th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron Community Services Flight Chief. "It will be run by local Kyrgyz contractors on a day to day basis with management oversight by the 376th EFSS."

Manas AB serves as the premier air mobility hub supporting operations in Afghanistan. Its primary missions are to provide air refueling support with its fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers and to support the movement of personnel and cargo transiting in and out of Afghanistan.

The first patron, a Soldier, walked through the door only a few minutes after the ribbon cutting.

"I spent nearly 38 hours convoying to Bagram and then catching a flight here so having this place available is great," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven Sabia, who just completed a 13 month deployment working in the Combined Security Transition Command, Afghanistan. "The treatment we receive at Manas is fabulous. We don't have to drag our bags, in processing is convenient and in one spot and the lodging is great. To top it off, now we have this place to relax and get in touch with our families. I can't say enough for how much this means to those who have served downrange or are going there."