By Army Spc. Matthew Wright
40th Combat Aviation Brigade
CAMP TAJI, Iraq (7/20/11) – The California Army National Guard’s 640th Aviation Support Battalion is working with the U.S. Air Force Base Transition Team to train Iraqi Army personnel on the maintenance and operation of backup generators for the airfield here.
The Headquarters Support Company of the 640th ASB currently maintains and operates the flightline generators on the Iraqi side of the airfield. It is working with the BTT and the Iraqi Air Aviation Command to eventually have Iraqis maintain the generators themselves.
The generators provide backup power to the airfield’s main power grid in case of an outage.
“As we begin to transition, eventually it will be the sole responsibility of IqAAC to maintain the generators,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Lydia Crouse, a member of the 321st Expeditionary Mission Support Advisory Group of the 1st Detachment and part of the BTT.
Army Sgt. Salvador Lopez, HSC, 640th, a generator mechanic has been training the Iraqis to operate the equipment.
“Our main job is to train the Iraqis on how to properly maintain the equipment on the airfield,” Lopez said.
The 640th’s generator mechanics drive to the Iraqi side of the airfield each week. They meet with Iraqi mechanics as well as Iraqi trainees who come to learn how the generators work.
Crouse says the 640th has identified this as a long term issue for the IqAAC and has set up maintenance training once a week.
The purpose of the training is to ensure the IqAAC has the skills to properly instruct their own soldiers on the equipment to help maintain the airfield and the base, he said.
“The level of previous training received by the IqAAC was limited,” Crouse said.
Lopez says the Iraqis are now taught the basic preventative maintenance checks and services and a basic level of maintenance the Army uses.
Warrant Officer Rashid from the IqAAC was on hand for the training from Lopez.
“I am looking forward to what we [the Iraqi soldiers] can learn from this cooperation,” Rashid said.
Rashid observed and asked many questions and seemed pleased with the training he was getting from the 640th.
The Iraqis said they are very happy with this cross training from the U.S. military, the BTT and HSC in particular.
“We have received very positive feedback,” Crouse said.
The cooperation with the generator training has been positive for both sides. “We are building a good relationship with them,” Lopez said.
The Iraqis are expected to inherit the equipment, providing the incentive for the training