Air Force Trainers Praise Iraqi Troop Training Efforts
Many of the former aviators that were in the Iraqi Air Force have returned to be instructors at the new Iraqi pilot school program. The Iraq Flight Training School takes new students and trains them to fly rotary and fixed wing aircraft. It is the site for creating the pilots of the Air Force for Iraq.
The new school is the first of its kind since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. It is a place where U.S. Air Force officers oversee instruction by mostly Iraqi instructors. The instructors have been trained and re trained in some cases by U.S. Forces and Coalition instructors. “I was sad after the first Iraqi War,” said Colonel Karim, the Iraqi Air Force Commander who is in charge of the new flight school. “I truly believed it would take decades, perhaps twenty-five years or longer to rebuild our Iraqi Air Force,” said Karim.
“There has been an outstanding level of success since we started,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mark Bennett. Bennett is the U.S. Force Commander of 52nd Expeditionary Flying and Training Squadron. This is the unit that advises and overseas the flight school. Fighter pilots that were trained during Saddam’s regime were some of the first pilots selected to attend the school.
These first pilots then were aided into becoming instructors. This process allowed the Iraqi personnel to gradually take over the flight school from the ground up. “They are very good instructors, and excellent pilots,” said Colonel Bennett.