By Army Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 17, 2009 - The Iraqi air force and army, aided by U.S. forces, established radio communication here Aug. 11 in an effort aimed at improving collaboration between the two services during operations. Although the weather prevented the two services from conducting their original training mission, the day was a big success, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Lee Dewald, an air liaison officer with the 84th Expeditionary Air Support Operation Squadron, Multinational Division South.
Initially, the plan was to have Iraqi army personnel train in ground operations while the air force provided an "eye in the sky" to help them track the objective.
"For two months, we have been training the Iraqi air force to be able to work with ground forces effectively," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William Iuliano, squadron commander. "Today, since weather didn't permit, we worked on getting their [communications] set up."
Most of the Iraqi air force radio devices are not compatible with those of the Iraqi army, Iuliano said. The forces spent the morning linking the two services so they can effectively communicate with each other during operations.
It took the forces about an hour to configure frequencies both communication devices could read, and establish communication between the ground forces and pilots.
"Just to get them to be able to communicate with each other using the different systems was a huge success," Dewald said. "Now that has been established, we need to teach the guys on the ground what airborne eyes can do for them."
The "eyes in the sky" will enable real-time updates of the battlefield, route reconnaissance, assistance in pursuing a fleeing target and help in detecting an ambush.
"They have gotten to the point where they need a tactical capability now that they are taking over their major cities," Iuliano said, "and we have been able to give them that by teaching them how to work together."
Iraqi air force Lt. Col. Adnan Mansour, chief engineer for Squadron 70, noted past problems with communication; however, "They have done a great job setting it up and getting it working so communication will be effective in the future," he said.
During operations, Mansour explained, having someone in the sky directing ground forces away from danger and obstacles will help increase their effectiveness.
(Army Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery serves in Multinational Division South.)