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1st ACB, Iraqi Air Force strengthen partnership

Sep 2, 2009

By Sgt. Seandale Jackson, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Getting to know the Iraqi Soldiers on a personal level is crucial to fostering a more professional relationship.

Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, have done just that.

Members of 2nd Squadron, Iraqi Air Force, who fly the UH-1H, better known as the Huey II, recently spent time with American pilots and maintenance technicians, to better understand how "First Attack" maintainers keep their aircraft aloft.

As the partnership between the 1st ACB and the fledgling Iraqi aviators grows, Soldiers on both sides help each other to cross language barriers and increase the flow of information.

As the U.S. and IAF aviators meet weekly, they now greet each other with hugs instead of handshakes.

During the 1st ACB's last to Iraq in 2006, Lt. Col. Charles Dalcourt, the battalion's current commander from Baton Rouge, La., served as the deputy brigade commander.

It was then he began the relationship with the IAF and can recall their solo flight over Baghdad in August 2007.

"After the first visit, and surely after the second visit, they knew that we were both humble and sincere in our efforts to reunite and get together," said Dalcourt. "So that really enables us to get in and get going; to move the relationship past the professional perspective."

The purpose of the visit was threefold - to foster a closer partnership, to celebrate the second anniversary of the 2nd Squadron's first solo flight and to focus on maintenance practices.

Now a plan is in place to share with them the importance of a consistent maintenance regiment.

"I want them to get out of it the sense of pride that we have in our aircraft ... we are just trying to show them how it can help them in their maintenance , using their team to facilitate making their maintenance better and a way to make them more successful on their missions," said Haas.

The 2nd Squadron was invited to a production control meeting and shown the intricacies of what is required to maintain a group of aircraft.

The end result will be for them implement similar practices and achieve a higher number of fully-mission-capable helicopters, but Cav. aviators say that cannot happen until the personal relationships develop.

"You don't exactly trust somebody that shows you a way to work, but if you know them as a person and what they stand for, and the camaraderie that goes with social events, I think it carries over better and [provides] a better base for [the] relationship," said Haas.

In the near future, both the Iraqis and U.S. pilots hope to fly Huey's and Apaches in formation over Baghdad; demonstrating the relationship between air assets of the Iraqi and U. S. Military, said Dalcourt.

"I would like to see the Iraqi Air Force grow to the extent that their doing missions and conducting operations in support of Iraqi ground forces," said Dalcourt. "Be it air assaults, air movements or other missions that may entail greater coordination and greater synchronization between the two."

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