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Friday, December 01, 2006

Good News From Iraq Part #17

To those that cannot stand to see any good news from Iraq, you should leave fast before we ruin your clear cut beliefs that Iraq is so bad off that nothing good ever happens. For the rest of you, welcome and here is some good news that the major media seems to either not care about, or simply doesn't think it is newsworthy because it does not involve death and destruction.

New Iraqi Air Force returns to sky.

Friday, 01 December 2006
By Tech. Sgt. Gene Lappe
506th Air Expeditionary Group

KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE — The new Iraqi Air Force has returned to the sky, performing a variety of missions throughout the country, thanks to training and support from Coalition advisers.

At Kirkuk Regional Air Base, advisers help Iraqi military members of Squadron 3 train for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

"Our mission is to train, advise and assist the Iraqi Air Force unit at Kirkuk in the development and execution of all aspects of air power," said Lt. Col. Greg Zehner, senior advisor for the Coalition Air Force Military Transition Team. "This includes flight operations, aircraft maintenance, base operations support activities and basic levels of professional military education.

"We also work to develop and enhance a professional military ethic for all Iraqi air force personnel, from the youngest enlisted airman to the senior officers," he said.

The mission of Squadron 3, one of six squadrons in the Iraqi Air Force, is to perform ISR of the strategic infrastructure in northern Iraq -- flying over the oil pipelines, electrical power lines and other important facilities to monitor their condition and watch for insurgent activities.

This is accomplished with the SAMA (Zenair) CH-2000 aircraft, a single-engine, two-passenger plane.

The squadron conducts a mix of training and operational missions -- training new members, getting them certified in the aircraft, and performing the reconnaissance mission with those pilots who are fully mission-capable.

The responsibility of training and advising the Iraqi military members falls to a seven-person team.

Their areas of expertise are spread across several specialties including operations, intelligence, maintenance, communications and supply.

"Our first big obstacle was getting the aircraft," said Maj. Jean Havens, director of operations. "Since they have arrived, we are moving forward with getting the Iraqis checked out on the aircraft."

Flight training had been on hold due to the grounding of the CompAir 7SL, the unit's previous aircraft.

Havens, an instructor pilot deployed from Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., is responsible for advising her Iraqi counterparts on all aspects of the flying operations.

She said she was excited about her assignment and the opportunity to be a part of helping the Iraqi air force become a self-sufficient organization.

"The dream of any instructor is to see progress of a student," she said. "Serving as their instructor will probably be the highlight of my career."

Master Sgt. James Redmond, maintenance advisor, has the responsibility of instructing and advising the Iraqi airmen on how to keep their new aircraft flying.

"We show them what has to be done and how to use technical data and proper safety procedures," he said. "Then they develop plans and techniques that will work for them."

He said his mission is to show the Iraqis how to make their air force better and to help them grow from lessons learned in the past.

"The Iraqis are eager to learn, and they take pride in their work," Redmond said. "Once the maintenance is done, they will usually hang around and watch the launch of the aircraft they worked on."

Zehner said the most satisfying part of his mission is two-fold: "Doing our part to help the Iraqis transition to a functioning democratic government at peace within its borders and with its neighbors; and the personal relationships we have gained and expect to further develop in our daily interaction with our Iraqi counterparts."

Leaders working toward security handover, dismantling al Qaeda in Iraq.

Friday, 01 December 2006

BAGHDAD — Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, Multi-National Force – Iraq spokesman, spoke to members of the Arab media during a round-table discussion Thursday in the wake of President Bush’s meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan.

During the president’s meeting with the prime minister they agreed to “accelerate” the transfer of security responsibility from Coalition Forces to Iraqi Security Forces.

Caldwell told reporters Coalition Forces would do their best to quell violence in Iraq for as long as the Iraqi Government needed them. The transition of responsibility would occur when Iraqi leaders are ready, and not before, he said.

“Iraqi Forces need more support from Multi-National Force – Iraq,” Caldwell said. “They need more troops and equipment before Iraq can ask American and Coalition Forces to pull out of Iraq.”

Caldwell emphasized that any solution to problems in Iraq will be an “Iraqi solution,” not one dictated by Coalition Forces or the United States.

“The president is committed to help the (Iraqi) government see it through until the Iraqi prime minister says U.S. assistance is no longer needed. At that time, American troops will go home,” he said.

Responding to questions on the recent rise in violence throughout Iraq, Caldwell said the current situation is “unacceptable,” and that Coalition Forces are doing everything they can to ease the problem.

Caldwell showed the reporters photos of more than 30 terror leaders who have been killed or captured in the last few months. (Click here for the Slides)

“The more we can do to bring down these operations, the greater our ability to bring down the levels of violence,” Caldwell said.

However, he said, military force is not enough.

“There needs to be a political and military solution,” Caldwell said. “A military solution alone will not solve the problem of violence. I’m encouraged to hear that the prime minister and political parties are talking about a political solution.”

Until then, he said, Coalition Forces will keep training Iraqi Security Forces to maintain peace in the streets of Iraq and work toward the accelerated transfer of security responsibility agreed upon by the president and prime minister.

Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi Government, joined Caldwell during his discussion with the media. Al-Dabbagh said Iraqi troops could take control of their own security operations as early as June 2007.

He said the ability of Iraqi Security Forces to deal with terrorists and insurgent militias on their own will bolster the legitimacy of Iraq’s democratically elected government.

“When Iraqi Security Forces have the ability to deal with the militias, then the Iraqi elected government will be strong,” al-Dabbagh said. “As long as militias operate in Iraq, it will be difficult for the Iraqi government to uphold the rule of law.”

“There are as many as 23 different militias operating in Baghdad alone,” Caldwell said. “The prime minister wants to deal with them within the political process. The Coalition Force’s position is that if somebody acts outside of the law – murders, executions, kidnappings – we’re going to go after them as individuals while the prime minister continues the political task of going after them as organizations.”

Al-Dabbagh said anyone who commits violence against Iraqis is a criminal and will be dealt with as such.

“No one is above the law if he breaks the law,” al-Dabbbagh said. “These militias have no right to carry weapons in the streets. The government will deal with all of them equally.”

With an accelerated timetable to make security a solely Iraqi responsibility, Caldwell said 2007 will be a “year of transition.”

Transition, he said, will begin with intensified training of Iraqi Army and Police forces.

“You’ll see a greater number of Coalition Forces that will be embedded and working beside Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police. Where before you had an 18-person team, you may now see a 54-person team. The goal is to focus on professionalism and the training of leaders.”

Caldwell said the transition will include a gradual pullback of Coalition combat operations as Iraqi troops begin to shoulder the load.

“You will see far fewer Coalition Forces doing military operations, and far more Iraqi Forces,” Caldwell said. “The Coalition Force will take on more of a support role than it ever has before. Iraqi forces will clearly be in the lead.”

Despite what the MSM keeps shoveling down your throat, there are some excellent advances the Iraqi's are experiencing. Much more here at Centcom press release page. This is there main page, with some awesome things that are happening right now.

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