Defense

June 25, 2012

Air Force presence helps preserve progress in Iraq

Tags:
by TSgt. Beth Del Vecchio
Baghdad, Iraq

Col. Steven Burgh with the Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq meets with the Iraqi air force commander, Gen. Anwar, to discuss current progress of the Iraqi air force, June 3, 2012 in Baghdad, Iraq.

A group of U.S. airmen assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq help to preserve progress made in the country after almost a decade of war.

The mission of OSC-I, in coordination with USCENTCOM and U.S. Mission-Iraq, is to conduct security cooperation activities to build partner capacity in support of developing a strategic partnership with a stable self-reliant and regionally-integrated Iraq.

The OSC-I is a true joint endeavor, commanded by Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen and his deputy, Navy Rear Adm. Edward Winters. Within OSC-I, Air Force Brig. Gen. Jay Silveria serves as the Director of Security Assistance.

The deputy director of security assistance is Air Force Col. Mark Foringer, deployed from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He described the mission as similar to other security cooperation offices at other embassies.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq commander, talks with Iraqi air traffic control students, June 9, 2012 in Tikrit, Iraq.

“Security cooperation offices are pretty much standard operations in any kind of embassy; we have them all around the world. We are one of the largest here, because of the non-permissive environment and the transition of our mission from combat operations under U.S. Forces – Iraq to traditional diplomatic activities under the embassy,” Foringer said. “We provide advice to our military counterparts, help them work foreign military sales cases and look for opportunities for their military to train with us regionally or back in the states.”

The main mission of OSC-I is to build partnership capacity with the government and military of Iraq.

“The idea is, 10 to 20 years from now, we will have personal relationships with key leaders, they will be operating equipment that is compatible with ours, and when we need to build a coalition, Iraq will be available to partner with us,” Foringer continued.

Under the security assistance umbrella are service-specific teams of advisors and FMS case workers dedicated to eight Iraqi military organizations: Army, Army Aviation, Navy, Air Force, Logistics, Air Defense and Professional Military Education.

Leading the Air Force team is Air Force Col. Mike Duffy, deployed from Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, N.C. His 21-Airman team works from a variety of locations with members of the Iraqi Air Force and Air Defense.

“We’re here, so that the sacrifices and shed blood over the last 10 years, was not done in vain,” Duffy said. “We’re now helping them build their Air Force and Air Defense, and in doing that, Iraq will achieve air sovereignty and we will create a lasting partnership.”

Col. Mike Duffy briefs U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq commander on the Iraqi T-6 training program, June 9, 2012 in Tikrit, Iraq. OSC – I, in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy – Baghdad, the government of Iraq and international partners, conducts security cooperation in order to support Iraq’s continued development into a sovereign stable and long-term self reliant strategic partner that contributes to peace and security in the region.

Although U.S. contractors now conduct the training in Iraq, Air Force advisors play a critical role in the planning and set up of training facilities and acquisition of aircraft and training aids. Airmen also advise senior leadership at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi Air Force, and Air Defense commands on anything from runways and aircraft control towers to personnel issues and logistics.

Recently, the Iraqi Air Force purchased 18 F-16s, which are scheduled to arrive beginning in 2014. According to Duffy, the purchase is a huge step toward the goal of a modernized Integrated Air Defense and a strategic partnership.

“This will be huge in giving the Iraqi Air Force the air space sovereignty that they need to protect their air space in the future,” he said. “Equally important to modern equipment is quality training and we’ve already begun to train their F-16 pilots. We have ten pilots in the pipeline now and two pilots in the F-16 international course in Tuscon. We also have over 300 Iraqi F-16 maintainers that are getting ready to start training in Jordan in July.”

Duffy said the day-to-day interactions of the OSC-I advisors, builds the trust needed to complete the mission.

“We have action officer advisors out there advising Iraqi Air Force leadership on a daily basis, asking them smart questions and at the same time, advising them on lessons they’ve learned. The trust built is important,” Duffy said. “We also have a Senior Advisor Group with a ton of experience on different aircraft and air defense systems. They interact with Iraqi senior military and government of Iraq officials daily.”

One of those Senior Advisors is Air Force Col. Steven Burgh, deployed from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., serving a year-long tour as a mentor to senior leaders with the Iraqi Air Force and Air Defense.

“As a senior advisor, one of the most important parts of my mission is to be the primary liaison between the Iraqi Air Force Commander and the Chief of OSC-I,” he said. “During daily interactions, I’ll advise and assist the commander in executing his long-term strategy and, at the same time, inform him on how OSC-I can help him achieve his goals and objectives.”

Preserving progress in Iraq and building a partnership is something that will benefit all involved, said the colonel.

“I think it is vitally important for us to build on all of the hard work and sacrifice the U.S. military has made in Iraq since 2003,” he said. “Iraq is in the middle of a very dynamic and important part of the world. I think it will benefit both countries for us to build a strong partnership. The military to military relationship OSC-I is supporting will be an important part of the overall relationship between the U.S. and Iraq.”

As a vital part of the mission in Iraq, Burgh feels strongly about his part in the future of the country’s Air Force.

“This is a very important time in history as we transition from combat operations to a more normal military and diplomatic relationship,” Burgh said. “I feel very lucky to be a part of the team here in Iraq.”

Although the media was flooded with images of the “last U.S. troops” leaving Iraq in December of 2011, a group of servicemembers stayed behind or have since arrived to foster a relationship that President Barack Obama coined “an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect.” A relationship that the airmen of OSC-I are working hard to build and that will play a hand in the future of the region.




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


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OĆ­Shea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 
 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Siuta B. Ika

AOC integral to Red Flag 14-3 operations

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Siuta B. Ika Members of the Air and Space Operations Center work during Red Flag 14-3 operations July 22, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Armed with personnel from intelligence and communicati...
 
 
red-flag1

Red Flag night operations soar into darkness

Singapore air force aircraft maintainers walk down the flightline looking for foreign object debris before night operations begin during Red Flag 14-3, July 16 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag exercises involve air and g...
 
 
Air Force photo by Ken LaRock

First aviation mechanic display added to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Air Force photo by Ken LaRock A bronze bust honoring the first aviation mechanic, Charles E. Taylor, is now on permanent display in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force’s Early Years Gallery. The museum is located ne...
 




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>