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Karshi Khanabad (K-2) Air Base

Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, also known as K-2, or Camp Stronghold Freedom, was a Soviet-era air base used by U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marine forces for support missions into Afghanistan. The base was one square mile in southeastern Uzbekistan, near the border of Tajikistan.

Army troops follow an airman at Karshi-Khanbad Air Base
United States Air Force, photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol

The U.S. military occupied the base from 2001-2005. K-2 is currently the home of the 60th Separate Mixed Aviation Brigade of the Uzbek Air Force.

Potential Exposures

Service members at K-2 may have encountered several hazardous exposures:

Jet fuel: Exposure to jet fuel may have occurred as a result of a leaking Soviet-era underground jet fuel distribution system.

Volatile organic compounds - Air samples collected during environmental assessments contained concentrations of volatile organic compounds from jet fuel vapors that did not exceed military exposure guidelines or other health exposure criteria.

Particulate matter and dust –All service members who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations were exposed to particulate matter and dust. The levels in the air varied depending on the season and weather conditions.

Depleted uranium – Several years before the U.S. occupied K-2, Soviet missiles were destroyed there, contaminating some areas of surface dirt with low-level, radioactive, depleted uranium.

Asbestos – Asbestos was present in roof tiles and dirt but was not detected in air samples.

Lead- based Paint: K-2’s one-stop, In-processing Center was the only structure identified on the base with lead-based paint.

Environmental assessments also confirmed the absence of chemical warfare agents and ionizing radiation on K-2.

The Army Public Health Center K-2 fact sheet contains more information about potential exposures.


DoD conducted an initial study to look at cancer outcomes among service members deployed to K-2 and found a higher risk of malignant melanoma and neoplasms of the lymphatic and hematopoietic tissues (excluding Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Leukemia). These results, however, were based on only a few cases of each type of cancer and should not be viewed as definitive evidence of an association with service at K-2.

Both DoD and VA continue to assess the health effects of those deployed to K-2. VA has established the K-2 Surveillance Program that will provide the capability to assess health outcomes (disease prevalence and mortality) at regular intervals and respond quickly to emerging health concerns. VA and DoD hope this research will provide more definitive scientific evidence on the relationship between health and exposures at K-2.

The findings from the initial analyses from the K2 Surveillance Program were presented in March 2024 at the annual meeting of AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals.  

K-2 Community Forum 

Learn about the online community forum for Veterans who served at K-2.

Depleted Uranium Testing

Some K-2 Veterans have voiced concerns about whether they may have been exposed to depleted uranium (DU) at K-2. Veteran who served at K-2 are eligible to receive a urine assay to test for the isotopic signature of DU. To schedule an appointment to be tested, please contact an Environmental Health Coordinator near you. There is no cost to you for the DU laboratory test.

Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry

K-2 is a deployment location eligible for enrollment in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (AHOBPR). The AHOBPR helps us better understand the potential health effects of exposures to airborne hazards during military service. 

Health concerns?

If you are concerned about possible health issues related to service at K-2, talk to your health care provider. Find out how you can apply for VA health care.

Compensation for health problems

Veterans may file a claim for disability compensation for health problems they believe are related to service at K-2. These claims are decided on a case-by-case basis. File a claim online.




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