Presiding over the event were U.S. Air Force Maj Gen Robert C. Kane, commander of the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing and director of the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force; Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar Hamad Amen Ahmed, Iraqi Air Force Commander; Brig. Gen. Kareem Ali Abud, commander of the Iraqi Air Force’s New Al-Muthana Air Base; and Col. Christopher Pehrson, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Group.
“Today I say we are proud to have had the honor to work with you side-by-side as brothers, not less,” said Kareem. “I have worked with about eight advisors, and we have here more than 60 groups at Al Mathana, great in all fields: discipline, versatility, specialties and more than that, humanity.
“We can’t forget the support you gave in the training of pilots, craft engineers, logistics, security forces and English classes,” he continued. “We respect your sacrifices -- leaving your families behind just to support Iraqi air forces. We are grateful for you and your families. We don’t like to say goodbye -- see you again with better situations in Iraq.”
With the deactivation of the squadron comes another claim to the Iraqi air force’s independence.
Squadron 23 is the largest C-130 squadron in the Iraqi air force and its mission includes delivering troops, cargo, distinguished visitor support and medical evacuation. The squadron began after the United States gave three C-130E aircraft to the Iraqis through the Excess Defense Articles program. The Iraqi Air Force C-130 airlift mission was born with the arrival in January 2005 of those same three jets at Ali Air Base. This paved the way for the first aircrew members to receive flight training at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. After being assigned to Ali Air Base since 2005, the squadron moved to NAMAB March 7, 2006.
Congratulations to the Iraqis and Americans responsible for achieving this important and impressive milestone. We appreciate your dedication and your sacrifices!
Related: 'The war the times forgot' at Mudville Gazette.
Both stories h/t The Thunder Run