Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

May 10, 2011 at 3:50am

McChord's 447th Air Expeditionary Group developing NCOs in Iraq

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Randy Redman Master Sgt. Daryl Baldosser, 447th Expeditionary Communication Squadron Cyber Transport Systems section chief (left) and Master Sgt. Christina Riegel, 447th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Traffic Management su

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NEW AL MUTHANA AIR BASE, Iraq - As the war on terror rages and assassinations grab headlines, airmen serving with the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air and 447th Air Expeditionary Group are focusing their efforts on building the foundation of the Iraqi air force. Equipment transfer and technical training are important, but a small group of non-commissioned officers are also teaching enlisted professional development as part of U.S. Air Force efforts to rebuild the Iraqi air force as a strong, regional air power partner.

Master Sgt. Brian Carter, ITAM-Air medical advisor, is the lynchpin for the current class and said a committee of about 15 people planned the course, which covered Iraqi air force core values, professionalism and training. 

"We had 51 students for each night," said Carter, who is deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. "The students were divided into three small groups based on rank... warrant officers, NCOs and airmen."

According to Carter, the enlisted corps of the Iraqi air force is similar to the U.S. Air Force, but there are differences. For example, the Iraqi air force has many highly-experienced enlisted airmen and new airmen with about a year or so on active duty. However, there are very few serving in mid-level enlisted positions.

"The senior NCOs, or warrant officers they call them, have been in many years. Some had even served in the Iraqi army and served under Saddam's regime [during] Desert Shield and Desert Storm," said Carter, who is originally from Wilson, N.C. "They face many challenges, such as training issues and lack of resources. However, they are not as empowered by their officers to solve these problems on their own as our senior NCOs would be."

Master Sgt. Daryl G. Baldosser, 447th Expeditionary Communication Squadron Cyber Transport Systems section chief, volunteered his time as an instructor for the professional development course. Baldosser, deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., said he was impressed with the experience and knowledge the Iraqi senior NCOs exhibited.

"The first group we addressed was the senior NCOs. We asked the question, ‘What part of your training program needs the most help?' The Iraqi senior NCOs were very passionate with their responses," said Baldosser, a native of Republic, Ohio. "They cited issues like ‘lack of training on the newer, digital aircraft platforms' and obstacles like officers not being responsive to their training requests or needs. We tried to get them to focus on the items within their span of control."

Tech. Sgt. Rebecca McKeever, 447th Expeditionary Medical Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge, also volunteered to teach. McKeever, originally from Winchester, Va., taught during the second night of the course and focused on the four Iraqi air force core values, which are: learn English, integrity, loyalty to country and military discipline.

"I volunteered to teach the class so I could find out how the enlisted members of the Iraqi air force compare to our enlisted members. I also wanted to meet the airmen we are here to help develop and grow into an independent force," said McKeever, who is deployed from Buckley AFB, Colo.

Master Sgt. Christina Riegel, 447th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Traffic Management superintendent, who is deployed from Ramstein AB, Germany, said she was amazed at how much the enlisted corps of the U.S. Air Force and Iraq Air Force have in common.

"We are the same! Both would like to make improvements to their processes and sometimes we encounter the same challenges in making those improvements," said Riegel, a Greeley, Colo. Native.

As with any good training, the communication was a two-way process. The Iraqi NCOs who participated in the training said they enjoyed the opportunity and felt the small-group discussion method of instruction was highly effective. Several also mentioned they felt the long term benefit of the training would build a strong foundation for the Iraqi air force.

A secondary goal for this training was to give the Iraqis a chance to interact with Americans and practice their English language skills.

"A lot of the aviation training and operations require English, and understanding the language is crucial to building their capabilities as an air force," said Carter.

McKeever said everyone here should seize opportunities to work with the Iraqi air force.

"They have an energy and willingness to learn that is refreshing to see. They seem to enjoy talking to the U.S. airmen and working on their English skills the most," McKeever said. It was a great experience and memory that I will enjoy reminiscing about for years to come!"

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