World

July 18, 2013

162nd Fighter Wing graduates first Iraqi pilots

Staff Sgt. Erich B. Smith
162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech Sgt. Hollie Hansen)
Col. Mick McGuire (left), presents a gift to Staff Lt. Gen. Hamad Ameen Ahmed Mam Seeny Anwer during the inaugural graduation ceremony of two Iraqi F-16 pilots.

While the Republic of Iraq builds a strong defensive posture in the Middle East as it faces the challenges of securing its new democratic course at home, the 162nd Fighter Wing at the Tucson International Airport graduated two Iraqi air force (IqAF) F-16 pilots June 27.

An occasion one would arguably find unimaginable a decade ago, Iraqi government heads and military leaders came together with 162nd Airmen, U.S. Department of Defense officials and business leaders to attend the inaugural graduation ceremony at a hotel in Tucson.

“This is a historical day for the Iraqi air force and for the Iraqi people, and we are headed in the right direction,” said Staff Lt. Gen. Hamad Ameen Ahmed Mam Seeny Anwer, Chief of the IqAF. “They (IqAF pilots) will return to our country – then transfer that American experience of training to the next generation of Iraqi air force pilots.”

The graduation ceremony was part of an Iraqi delegation’s orientation tour, which included exposure to F-16 flying operations, maintenance and non-flying demonstrations, a tour of the local defense contractor manufacturing facility, a visit to a Davis-Monthan Air Force Base field training detachment, and finalizing their visit to Tucson with flights for a select few in the AT-6C.

For Capt. Mohammed Hamaameen, one of the IqAF graduates, his new designation as a “wingman” is a thrilling feat that will have greater meaning back home.

“I love the feeling of just flying in the F-16 and one day knowing that you are going to protect the people of your homeland – it’s a nice feeling,” said IqAF Capt. Hamaameen. “As soon as we start flying, they (the Iraqi people) can sleep comfortably knowing there are pilots above protecting their skies.”

Fellow graduate IqAF Capt. (Select) Mohammed Hassan Ghale, who will join Hamaameen as part of Iraqi’s future air power, recognized the journey to achieve his personal goal and acknowledged the training he received at the wing.

“This is a dream that became true,” he said. “We came a long way from home, and finally got to this level. We thank the instructor pilots and everybody who has supported our mission.”

The newly minted F-16 fighter pilots were presented with decorative fighting swords from Iraqi Acting Minister of Defense Sadoun Al-Dulaimi.

“This chapter signifies a new era in participation with our American friends and not forgetting our gratitude for the U.S. Armed Forces’ pivotal role in helping us remove Saddam Hussein,” said Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily.

“We are back in the international arena as a country,” Faily added, as his speech at the ceremony came only hours after the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous decision to end Chapter VII sanctions against Iraq.

According to the public relations office of the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq, lifting the sanctions, established in 1990, highlights the country’s increased political and economic cooperation in its region.

The first wave of F-16s are slated to arrive in Iraq in mid-2014, and according to U.S. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Jeff Orr, point-of-contact to the Iraqi training program, bringing the multi-purpose fighter to the country is “a big piece of their sovereignty puzzle.”

“Once they have initial operating capability with their F-16s, they will be able to guard their own airspace without help from anybody else,” Orr said.

While the 162nd Fighter Wing continues to serve as an ambassador of goodwill to other allied nations by producing combat-ready F-16 pilots, the Iraqi flag will continue to wave side-by-side with other countries represented at the international training unit.

Lt. Col. Charles Blank, 152nd Fighter Squadron commander, said the wing can expect roughly 40 more IqAF pilots over the next five years, with the frequency of their arrivals depending on where they stand in the pilot training pipeline.

Though the graduation ceremony represented a milestone for both the Iraqis and the 162nd Fighter Wing, Blank said the political climate of the partner-nation made the event all the more significant for the graduates and even future graduates.

“Given everything that is going on, they have done exceptionally well and continue to do so,” he added.

Col. Mick McGuire, 162nd Fighter Wing commander who made the opening remarks at the ceremony, described the new F-16 graduate’s dedication to training as a foundation for a long-term relationship.

“They are the future leaders of the Iraqi air force, and I know that 20-25 years from now when they are wing commanders and general officers, they will have fond memories of the U.S. Air Force and the 162nd Fighter Wing, and always look to us as a partner and somebody they can trust when it comes to working through the decisions they need to make as an air force,” he said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant)

AFSOUTH Liaison Officers: Embarking on a journey toward a promising future

Colonel Alex Voigt has only been serving as the Air Forces Southern Chilean Liaison Officer at Davis-Monthan for a couple of months, but with a history of Chilean LNOs reaching the rank of general and one even going on to serve...
 
 

D-M commander mixes it up with ‘The Morning Blend’

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey) U.S. Air Force Col. James P. Meger, 355th Fighter Wing commander, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., talks with TV hosts, Tina Jennings and Maria Parmigiani, during a live recording of “The Morning Blend” at KGUN9 Studio, Tucson, Nov. 24. Meger went on the show to...
 
 

Let’s talk turkey: Prepare the perfect bird this holiday season

Whether having a big group over to share the Thanksgiving festivities or it’s just you and the Family, the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving table is the turkey. Guests will graze around the appetizer table careful not to fill their bellies in anticipation of the plump, juicy turkey and all the fixin’s. Most people aren’t world-renowned...
 

 
DoD

New allotment rule protects troops from lending scams

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed a policy change in new paycheck allotments to prevent unscrupulous commercial lenders from taking advantage of troops and their families, Pentagon officials said Nov. 21. According to a Defense Department news release, effective Jan. 1, 2015, the change in DOD’s financial management regulation will prohibit service...
 
 

Officials highlight health, wellness resources for Military Families

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 – As efforts continue to strengthen service members and their families, Pentagon officials held a Bloggers Roundtable to highlight the myriad resources available to tackle the unique military and transitional challenges those who serve may face. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Rosemary Freitas Williams, Marine Corps...
 
 

Thanksgiving and our Native Americans

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On the fourth Thursday of every November, we as Americans celebrate the national holiday Thanksgiving. This day focuses on honoring the early settlers, and their harvest feast, which we know to be the “First Thanksgiving.” However, long before settlers came to the United States’ East Coast, the area was inhabited by...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin