Graduating Iraqi Defenders

The first group of Iraqi security forces airmen last month graduated from a two-week training course at Ali Air Base, Iraq, taught by US advisors of the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air. “Today was historic for the Iraqi air force. We saw the first Iraqi airmen become defenders,” said Maj. Mechille Braden, officer in charge of the US transition team at Ali. During the training, the 12 Iraqi airmen learned how to run an armory, conduct entry control point duties, and perform airfield and perimeter defense—all necessary skills to take control of Ali by the end of the year when all US troops are scheduled to be out of Iraq. “This was a different experience for them, but when you watch them in action, you can see they have a strong desire to learn and it comes from their heart,” said Braden. (Ali release by SSgt. Michael Longoria)