U.S. Commander ‘Ecstatic’ at Iraqi Coordination
By Army Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery
Special to American Forces Press Service
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, Sept. 17, 2009 For the last two months, U.S. airmen with Multinational Division South have been training Iraqi airmen to be the “eye in the sky” for Iraqi ground forces.
Maj. Lee Dewald, an air liaison officer for the 84th Expeditionary Air Support Operation Squadron, ensures radio connectivity between aircraft and ground forces is possible at all times during a training exercise between Iraqi army and air force units at Camp Wessam, Iraq, Sept. 12, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
That mission was accomplished during a Sept. 12 training exercise at Camp Wessam.
“Today, we brought the airmen out to Wessam to work with the Iraqi army,” Air Force Lt. Col. William Iuliano, commander of the 84th Expeditionary Air Support Operation Squadron, said following the training. “So, the big step forward was that we had Iraqi air force talking in Arabic to the Iraqi army in a scenario with the Americans as the opposing force.
“We were on the ground, running around Wessam and the aircraft was directing the Iraqi army to our position,” the Boise, Idaho, resident said. “They were using grid references they made; they did a coordination brief in the air from the aircraft down to the commander and the commander back to the aircraft. Everything was executed flawlessly.”
During the exercise, the airmen of the 84th set up different scenarios Iraqi servicemembers may encounter while on patrol, including improvised explosive devices, a mortar position and a runaway vehicle. Iuliano said the exercise exceeded his expectations and he was pleased with the outcome of the training.
“If we got here and were just able to talk on radios, I would have been happy,” he said. “I’m ecstatic with what we accomplished today.”
The whole goal of this exercise was to get Iraqi military units to work together that haven’t worked together in the past, Iuliano said. He added that he wants them to be able to work together to protect the people of Basra, the province and the whole country.
“The real reward for me was in the debrief when the Iraqi commander said, “it was like the aircraft was my eyes,’” Iuliano said. “That was exactly what I wanted to hear, so it was beautiful.”
(Army Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery serves with Multinational Division South public affairs.)