Kuraga Joint Base

Kuraga

قورغا
Military base
Naval Headquarters, 2010
Naval Headquarters, 2010
Motto(s): 
Από τη θάλασσα μέχρι τα αστέρια (From the Sea to the Stars)
Anthem: Privetstviye More
CountryTemplate:Country data Mazaristan
Administering Power Luziyca
EstablishedOctober 5, 1872
Government
 • CommanderStefon Katsaros
Population
(2015)
 • Total5,388
Demonym(s)Kuragians
Time zoneUTC-6
Elevation5m

Kuraga (Luziycan: Kuraga, Arabic: قورغا, qawrgha), officially known as Joint Base Kuraga (Luziycan: Sovmestnaya baza Kuraga) is a Luziycan military base located on 600 square kilometers (10.76 square milya) of land to the north of the village of al-Quragha in Mazaristan, which has operated since 1872, making it the oldest overseas base operated by Luziyca, although the current joint base was only established in 1991 when the Kuraga Naval Station and the Kuraga Space Center were formally placed under a single administration. The naval base is, according to the Luziycan government, "the most critical part of the operations for the Luziycan Navy," and essential for maintaining Luziyca's power projection in Nautasia.

From 1957 until the outbreak of the Mazari Civil War, the Kuraga Space Center was the Luziycan Space Agency's primary spaceport. However, since the outbreak of the Mazari Civil War, all missions have taken place from the Ishim Space Center in metropolitan Luziyca, due to security concerns.

Since the independence of Mazaristan from Luziyca in 1968, the area has been rented annually from the Mazari government, initially at 5,000 per year, but having risen to ₤17,830.42 per year in 1988, and to its current rent of ₤26,039.69 per year in 2008 to keep up with inflation.

History

Pre-Luziycan colonization

owned by some rich guys, some of the villagers farmed under him or smth, last owner before the Luzzies was a guy named Bata, idk

Construction of the naval base

In 1858, General Vyacheslav Bukhalo saw the potential of the region to be a naval base, saying in his journals that:

"The land, located north of Kuraga and measuring around 2,500 desiatin [around 27,316.25 dunams, or 27.3 square kilometers], was not only was owned by an absentee landowner, but one who fought against the Pearl Coast Territory. In addition, the land possesses appropriate qualities for it to be a naval base, as despite the coast being straight, it is deep enough to support vessels, and can easily be shaped to be the main hub for naval operations within the Pearl Coast Territory."

With the seizure of the land that would make the Kuraga Joint Base from the landowner, he ordered the start of construction to the naval base. As it was not situated on a natural harbor, or at a mouth of a river, construction of the naval base required the construction of artificial harbors, as well as the necessary infrastructure. Some of the excavated material was then dumped into the sea to create breakwaters, while the rest was dumped next to the coast to create new land to put structures on.

However, due to the distance of the Pearl Coast Territory from what would become Luziyca, most of the excavation was done by hand: despite a large workforce (mostly Arab forced laborers), this greatly meant that the project was slowed down: only when the first steam shovels in Bukhalo were made and transported to Kuraga in 1866 that construction sped up. It was believed that there were around 600 deaths during construction of the base from 1858 to 1872.

Establishment

Kuraga Naval Station, 1911

On October 5, 1872, the naval base was formally established and named Naval Station Kuraga (Luziycan: Morskaya stanciya Kuraga), making it the first overseas military base of the newly-established Christian Republic of Luziyca, despite the fact that at the time, the Pearl Coast Territory was a part of Luziyca.

By this point, while Luziyca already had a naval presence in Bukhalo, the opening of a larger base in Kuraga that can handle larger ships and was not near a large population center meant that the Luziycan Navy relocated its "southern operations" to Kuraga: in 1875, the Territorial Coast Guard took over the former naval base in Bukhalo.

Over the next few decades, despite Kuraga's small size to other Luziycan bases in Luziyca, Kuraga remained a major stopping point for the Luziycan navy, and a home city for many ships designed to patrol the Hyporian Sea. At the same time, the base helped grow the economy of the village of al-Quragha, located a few miles to the south, as many sailors with little to do would contribute to the local economy: bars and bordellos would spring up to serve the sailors stationed at Kuraga, while many restaurants thrived. Likewise, many people found opportunities to work on the base.

However, as ships grew larger, the Department of Defense ordered the expansion of the base and the deepening of the existing harbors in 1903, in order to accommodate new ships. To achieve that, while some of the dredged material was dumped next to the coast to help expand it, land adjacent to the base was seized via eminent domain: Luziycan settlers who owned expropriated land received 1,000 in compensation for the land, while land owned by Arabs were seized with no compensation. By the time the works to expand the base and its infrastructure were done in 1910 (with the help of steam shovels), the Kuraga Naval Station expanded to an area of 120 square km (2.15 square milya): not only would there be enough room to accommodate larger vessels, there would be room for expansion without seizing further land from owners.

Dominion era

Administrative building, 1956

Over the next few decades, as the Dominion of Mazaria and the Pearl Coast obtained more self-government, the Mazari government developed its own army, navy, and air force. As a result, control of the Kuraga Naval Base became a contentious issue, especially as many nationalist politicians sought Mazari administration over the base from the 1930s onward.

Despite these requests, Luziyca refused to give the base to the Dominion: instead, the Luziycan Department of Defense continued to administer the naval base, due to its strategic location in the southern hemisphere. An internal memo from 1941 stated that:

"Naval Station Kuraga is the most critical part of the operations for the Luziycan Navy. To transfer it to the Dominion government would thoroughly cripple the ability of Luziyca to project its power beyond the Central Ocean basin, and would mark the end of Luziyca as a great power."

In the early 1950s, as countries across Esquarium developed space programs of their own, the Luziycan government looked at potential sites for a Luziycan space program. While Ishim was a logical choice for polar orbits, it and other areas in Luziyca were not great for non-polar orbits, as despite their favorable latitude close to the equator, any launch path will involve flying over other countries that were, at the time, hostile to Luziyca.

Thus, the Luziycan government, in 1954, purchased 480 square kilometers (8.6 square milya) for land adjacent to the Kuraga Naval Base, as the land not only was at the right latitude, but also because any rocket launched from Kuraga would only fly over water, not land. Those living on the land were evicted, although they were paid 10,000 as compensation for their losses. With that, the following year, construction began on the Kuraga Space Center: by the time the first launch pads were completed in 1957, test launches began, initially under the aegis of the Luziycan Air Force, but after 1960, by the Luziycan Space Agency.

In 1963, with an agreement on a five-year timetable for the independence of Mazaristan with Prime Minister Amira Haddanni, Luziyca secured a provision to rent both the Kuraga Space Center and the Kuraga Naval Base for "military and scientific purposes only," and to maintain administrative rights over the area (although Mazaristan would maintain sovereignty over it). With the agreement made, the Luziycan government no longer feared losing a valuable naval base. The rent was set at 5,000 ($8,500 in 1968 dollars) per year.

Independence

File:Saturn V aerial.jpg
An Uran rocket being launched from Kuraga Space Center, 1976

Following the independence of Mazaristan from Luziyca on May 16, 1968, the Kuraga Naval Base and Kuraga Space Center remained under the administration of the Luziycan Armed Forces, and remained subject to regulations made by the Department of Defense. However, as Kuraga became an official overseas naval base, it became harder for Luziycan personnel to travel to al-Quragha or other Mazari towns, as they now had to pass through customs while entering and exiting the territory.

However, following the socialist coup d'etat in December of 1970, it became impossible for Luziycans to leave the area: while existing Mazaris can still work in the Kuraga Space Center or the Kuraga Naval Base, no new Mazaris were allowed to work for the Luziycan base. When the Luziycan government attempted to cash their rent payment in 1971, the Mazari government demanded that the Luziycans abandon the Kuraga base, and refused to cash the cheque. However, as the government was busy fighting a war against Jabar, they could not do much against the Luziycan presence at Kuraga.

During the 1970s, the development of on-base amenities accelerated, as it became impossible for Luziycan personnel to leave the base for any reason. Thus, a bowling alley, two cinemas, a public library, a roller skating rink, and even the first Frederick's Fries to be located on a military base, opened. At the same time, as the socialist government cut off the water supply to Kuraga, the Luziycans were forced to build a desalination plant to provide water in Kuraga.

However, with the overthrow of the socialist regime in 1978 in the Black Four coup d'etat, relations between Luziyca and Mazaristan improved: with the Mazari government easing the restrictions on going on or off the base, as well as allowing new recruitment for civilian workers, there was not as much of a pressing need to invest in on-base recreational facilities. This, combined with the Recession of 1980, meant that despite the facilities, some of the personnel were once again heading to al-Quragha, especially because goods in al-Quragha were often cheaper than those in Kuraga's Navy Exchange.

At the same time, with the Luziycan space shuttle program primarily using the Kuraga Space Center, more scientific personnel began to inhabit the area: this necessitated the construction of Luziycan-style houses in the area of the Kuraga Space Center, in order to both relieve the pressures on the housing at the Kuraga Naval Base, and to reduce homesickness. This led to the establishment of the first homeowners' association in both Zvedzy and the Avrorum neighborhoods in 1985: as well, a new Education Campus was built the following year to serve as the home for a new high school, as well as a new location for the elementary school.

However, by 1988, President Alexio Stavropoulos began plans to streamline the administration of the area, as maintaining separate administrations for both the Kuraga Space Center and Naval Station Kuraga caused a lot of redundancies and inefficiencies. That year, the rent was raised to 17,830.42 per year ($35,304.23), with a memorandum of understanding to raise the rent every 20 years from that point on.

Thus, in 1989, Stavropoulos tabled a budget which stated that by 1991, the Kuraga Space Center and the Naval Station would be placed under a single administration of the Department of Defense: this Joint Base would reduce costs for the Luziycan Space Agency as it would allow it to focus more on their space missions instead of maintaining civilian infrastructure. As well, by establishing a Joint Base, it was believed that this would make the base more efficient, as unnecessary redundancies can be cut without fears of relying too heavily on one or the other.

The 1989 budget was passed: thus, over the course of 1990, the administrative structures for the Joint Base were established: signs were changed from "Naval Station Kuraga/Kuraga Space Center" to "Joint Base Kuraga," and in 1990, the first budget was arranged for the Joint Base: much of the details involved "equalization of infrastructure quality," and closure of some redundant facilities: half of those to be closed were in the Space Center, the other at the Naval Station.

Contemporary era

Aerial view of the Kuraga Joint Base, 1995

On April 8, 1991, Naval Station Kuraga and the Kuraga Space Center became subordinate to the newly established Joint Base Kuraga. While the Kuraga Space Center was, and remains separate from the Luziycan Armed Forces, as it leases land from the Luziycan Armed Forces and is subject to Luziycan military law (as per the 1963 agreement with Mazaristan), it became subject to the Joint Base.

Its first commander, Admiral Evgeni Lukyanenko was appointed by the Department of Defense, and was sworn in on May 1st of that year. Under Lukyanenko's time as commander, he instituted a comprehensive development plan for the base, in order to ensure that infrastructure for both the Kuraga Space Center and the Naval Station would become both connected to one another, and become more efficient while maintaining redundancies "in case of emergency."

As well, during the 1990s, civilian infrastructure became more developed: the Naval Exchange became a shopping mall, complete with a food court, an arcade, an internet cafe, and multiplex cinemas. However, to prevent ordinary Mazaris from visiting the mall, only those who are employed on the base and can present valid ID, or are guests of such, can shop at the mall. As well, a new fitness center opened in 1995, which came with swimming pools, squash courts, a running track, and a basketball court.

When Lukyanenko retired in 2004, he was succeeded by Admiral Blagoj Škafar. During Škafar's time as commander of the joint base, he oversaw the end of the Luziycan space shuttle program, and the beginning of development of the Enterprise program. In 2008, he oversaw the increase of rent paid to the Mazari government to 26,039.69 ($52,079.38). However, with the outbreak of the Mazari Civil War in 2012, the Luziycan Space Agency was forced to cease use of the Kuraga Space Center due to security reasons, as they were concerned that rebels might be able to seize the Space Center and abscond with the materials that could be used to make weaponry. In 2013, most of those who worked at the Space Center were laid off, as the civil war was not ending anytime soon.

In 2016, with the election of Terezika Pivec as President of Luziyca, the new Secretary of the Department of Defense, Juliana Novak, appointed Stefon Katsaros as the new Commander of the Joint Base, thereby relieving Blagoj Škafar of his command. During Katsaros' term, the base has seen a substantial increase of use by military forces, as Luziyca and Ainin have intensified their intervention in the Mazari Civil War.

Units and commands

Resident units

Assigned units

  • Mazari Coast Guard (1926-1968)
  • Fleet Training Group (1912-1994)
  • Sokoly Squadron (1947-2002)

Geography

View of the surrounding area, 2005

The Kuraga Joint Base is 600 square kilometers (10.76 square milya) in area. It is bordered on three sides (south, west, and north) with Mazaristan, and is accessible by the Central Ocean to the east.

The Kuraga Joint Base is geographically divided into two sections: the reclaimed areas, that were constructed from 1858 to 1872, and from 1903 to 1910, and the natural areas. The reclaimed land is generally flat, with an average elevation being at one meter above sea level. In the natural areas, while they are still relatively flat, they are relatively more hillier, with the highest point on the base being the Tal Bata at 45 meters (148 feet) above sea level. The average elevation of the entire Joint Base is around 5 meters (16 feet) above sea level.

Climate

Due to its location on the coast of Mazaristan, the Kuraga Joint Base has a humid subtropical climate. The coolest months are June, July, and August, when average highs are between 17 °C (62.6 °F) and 19 °C (66.2 °F), while average lows range from 6 °C (42.8 °F) to 8 °C (46.4 °F). The warmest months are in December, January, and February, when average highs are between 33 °C (91.4 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F), while average lows range from 23 °C (73.4 °F) to 24 °C (75.2 °F).

The highest ever-recorded temperature at the Kuraga base was measured at 40 °C (104 °F), which was measured on February 11, 2003, while the coldest temperature recorded was at 0 °C (32 °F) on July 11, 1907.

Governance

Commander Stefon Katsaros, 2016

As per the 1963 agreement which would grant Mazari independence in 1968, the Joint Base is under Luziycan administration, although ultimate sovereignty remains under Mazaristan, and a yearly rent is paid to the Mazari government.

Thus, the Kuraga Joint Base is officially under the administration of the Luziycan Armed Forces. Of the 600 square kilometer area, 120 square kilometers is under the jurisdiction of the Luziycan Naval Forces (known informally as Area A), while the Luziycan Space Agency leases the remaining area for their non-polar geocentric orbits from the Luziycan Armed Forces (known informally as Area B).

Because of Kuraga's status as a military base, the Commander of the Joint Base (Luziycan: Komanduyuščiy Sovmestnaya baza) is, since 2016, Admiral Stefon Katsaros, who is selected by the Department of Defense.

In addition, military personnel and their dependents, as well as scientific personnel must follow Luziycan military law, while civilians follow Mazari law: in case a soldier commits a crime against a civilian, or vice-versa, they are tried in the court that fits their status.

Despite this status, there are three homeowners' association in Kuraga: one in the Karzama neighborhood (on the naval base), one in Zvedzy, and one in the Avrorum neighborhood. Despite the fact that the homeowners' associations are subordinate to the military, and have no official role in day-to-day governance, in practice, they serve as the de-facto local government on base, and the military often addresses concerns raised by the homeowners' associations.

Demographics

Typical housing

As of the 2015 census, the Kuraga Joint Base has a population of 5,388 people. Most of the inhabitants are Luziycan troops and their dependents, with only a handful of employees working for the Luziycan Space Agency to maintain the Kuraga Space Center. It has marked a decrease from the 2010 population of 19,406 people, as until the outbreak of the Mazari Civil War, 13,298 people worked at the Kuraga Space Center for the Luziycan Space Agency, with 4,097 people (in 2010) being employed by the Luziycan Armed Forces, with the remainder being dependents.

Despite the official population, it is accepted by the Department of Defense in 2017 that there are several hundred Mazaris who work at the Kuraga Joint Base, mostly from surrounding villages such as al-Quragha, which is a decrease from around three thousand Mazari workers in 2010.

While all the official languages of Luziyca are considered to be official languages on the base, the primary language at Kuraga is Luziycan, with Mazari Arabic being commonly understood by much of the population on the base, due to its location within Mazaristan and its employment of hundreds of Mazaris: most signs are bilingual in Luziycan and Arabic: only a few signs are multilingual in all Luziycan official languages.

Infrastructure

Education

Education on the Kuraga Joint Base for dependent personnel is operated by the Department of Defense Educational System, which is a part of the Department of Defense, and uses the Luziycan curriculum. However, due to Kuraga's location in the southern hemisphere, the school year on base starts in February and ends in November.

Officially, there are two schools on the Kuraga Joint Base: the General Bukhalo Secondary School, which opened in 1986 and serves Grade 6 to Grade 12 students, and the Admiral Ivankin Primary School, which opened in 1948, and serves students from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 5.

However, since 1986, both schools have been located on the same campus, known locally as the Education Campus on the property of the Kuraga Space Center, as the 1948 school on the former Naval Station had to be closed due to a fire in January of 1985, which released carcinogenic particles from the asbestos: the ruins of the 1948 school was later demolished that year, and students had to attend classes in portable classrooms until the Education Campus was completed.

As of the 2017 school year, there were only 201 students at the Education Campus, compared to 1,034 students in the 2011 school year: with the deteriorating security situation, soldiers have been discouraged from bringing their families along, although currently, there is no ban on bringing dependents.

For post-secondary education, people on base have to go to Luziyca: thus, military brats who have grown up in Kuraga will often identify their cohort by the year that they graduated from high school (e.g. Class of 2000).

Transportation

There are four gates for pedestrian and vehicular traffic: the South Gate, the West Gate, the Northwest Gate, and the Northeast Gate. The West and Northwest gates provides direct access to the Kuraga Space Center, while the South and Northeast gates provides direct access to the Naval Base: they are primarily intended for use by personnel, and Mazari civilians who work at either the Kuraga Space Center or the naval base.

There is only one operating military airfield: the Admiral Demetrios Airfield, which opened in 1971, and was designed to be used by both planes and by space shuttles (from 1979 to 2005). It is currently used by military aircraft, as well as charter flights to transport soldiers and their dependents to and from metropolitan Luziyca, as well as perishable cargo, such as food.

The Admiral Demetrios Airfield succeeded the Azhikelyamov Airfield, which opened in 1911: while it is still maintained in case of damage to the Admiral Demetrios Airfield, and was used as a backup field when space shuttle program was in existence, since 2006, much of Azhikelyamov's infrastructure has been removed: currently, only the runway and apron has been maintained.

Visitors to the base have to be approved to visit the Joint Base by the local chain of command, with the Commander of the Joint Base giving his or her final approval for visitors. To further ensure security, all visitors have to enter via the West Gate and check in at the visitor's center.

Issues

Labor rights

Due to the agreement made in 1963 with the Dominion of Mazaria and the Pearl Coast to grant it independence as Mazaristan in 1968, Mazaris remain subject to all Mazari legislation, including Mazari labor laws.

In 1983, a directive issued by the Luziycan Space Agency required that all Mazari workers at the Kuraga Space Center were to be paid "the same wage for the same work as Luziycan employees," and for all Mazaris employed by the Luziycan Space Agency to be compensated in accordance with Luziycan labor law, excepting instances where "Mazari labor law provides stronger protections." This directive remains in effect to this day, even though since 2013, most Mazaris have been laid off.

In the areas controlled by the navy, Mazari workers have been known to work for 15 hours a day on the Mazari minimum wage of 1.25 ($2.50) per hour, or ₤18.75 ($37.50) a day. As well, many Mazaris have reported instances of discrimination against them, either being denied access to the Navy Exchange despite having valid ID, or else dealing with racial abuse.

Despite attempts by the new Commander, Stefon Katsaros to discourage racism against Mazari workers on base since 2017, there were three reported instances as of June 2018 of hate speech directed at Mazari workers. As well, directives have meant that Mazaris are starting to be paid equally to their Luziycan counterparts.