Saturday, December 15, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 15 Dec 2007

From MNF-I, Iraqi Air Force Taking Off.

TAJI — The Iraqi Air Force is beginning to take strides in the training of its leaders and the operations and maintenance of its helicopters.

The Iraqi Air Force Academy here graduated 28 newly commissioned Iraqi Air Force 2nd lieutenants in the academy’s second graduation. The officers will be heading into leadership positions in sensor operation and maintenance, with nine being identified as pilot candidates.

“We are providing a pipeline of commissioned officers to the Iraqi Air force,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Stuart Lloyd, chief of the Iraqi Air Force Academy. “We are picking up where the original Iraqi AirForce Academy left off in 2003 after the invasion.”

The academy teaches a six-month course, which is scheduled to be extended to nine months to include English language training. During the course, the cadets are taught many subjects, including followership, leadership, weapons familiarization, and drill and ceremony.

The academy is taught by U.S. Air Force officers; however, the school is expecting Iraqi instructors to work side by side with their American counterparts shortly.

Collocated with the Air Force Academy courses is the Iraqi Air Force Warrant Officer Class. This class is training warrant officers to fill the gap between lower ranking airmen and officers in the Iraqi Air Force.

The courses were created and taught by U.S. Air Force military training instructors, who volunteered from their usual duty of training U.S. Air Force recruits at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The instructors took guidance given to them from Iraq’s Ministry of Defense and the courses they teach recruits in Texas to form the new class.

“We wondered, ‘Is it too complex? Are we too deep? How’s this going to work through translation?’,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ray Hotaling, Iraqi Air Force basic military training superintendent. “The best part is at the end of the day when you see that you put the information out there, and they got it.”

The warrant officer candidates in the course must first go through basic training before they begin training in the warrant officer school. Once at the school, the candidates go through classes, which include history, leadership and counseling skills.