CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq: The Iraqi air force and army, aided by American Airmen, established radio communication here Aug. 11 in an effort to improve 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 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 Lt. Col. William Luliano, the 84th EASOS 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, Colonel Luliano said. American Airmen spent the morning linking the two services so they could effectively communicate with each other during operations.
After an hour, American Airmen configured frequencies both Iraqi army and Iraqi air force communication devices could read, and established 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,” Major Dewald said. “Now (communication) 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 and we have been able to give them that by teaching them how to work together,” Colonel Luliano said.
Iraqi air force Lt. Col. Adnan Mansour, the 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.”
During operations, Iraqi Colonel Mansour explained, having someone in the sky directing ground forces away from danger and obstacles will help increase their effectiveness.