Six-Month Turnaround:

The man leading the Coalition Air Force Transition Team—Air Force Brig. Gen. Bob Allardice—told reporters last week that the program had taken “a pretty big step” over the past six months, reports American Forces Press Service. He said, “Six months ago, there was no air force academy for the Iraqi air force; there was no technical training school; there was no basic training school for enlisted people.” That has all changed, with the graduation of Iraqi Air Force second lieutenants, basic airmen, and technical support personnel. And, he added that 138 experienced aviators from the old Iraqi Air Force have returned to serve in the new air force. Today, said Allardice, the Iraqi Air Force has about 1,200 people and 51 aircraft. They are flying about 180 sorties a week, and “their missions are very impressive,” he said. Recently an Iraqi Air Force aircraft with intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance equipment identified a group that had punched holes in oil pipelines and tracked them for the Iraqi police. Allardice predicts that the Iraqi Air Force will be flying 800 sorties per week by December 2008.