The 52nd Expeditionary Flying Training Squadron earlier this month ended its T-6 advisory training mission with the Iraqi air force’s Squadron 203 at Tikrit Air Base. In just under two years, the unit graduated 11 Iraqi T-6 Texan II instructor pilots who will form the basis of Iraqi fixed-wing training. “They’ve really stepped up to the challenge of running their own squadron,” said Capt. Aaron Knight, 52nd EFTS instructor pilot. “I’m extremely impressed with the maturity they have shown,” added Knight. Ten student pilots currently are in Iraq’s training pipeline at Tikrit, with plans for an additional 15 to 20 more students to move through later this year. “Our goal is to help build a strong air force,” noted an Iraqi instructor. USAF advisors could potentially resume training if the Iraqi government asks the United States to keep them in Iraq beyond the current end-of-year deadline for leaving. (Camp Speicher report by SSgt. Mike Meares)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.