The U.S. Navy and Air Force recently teamed up to support and train the newly formed Iraqi Navy with maritime mission support along the northern area of the Arabian Gulf, where a large percentage of Iraq’s oil is exported.
The first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flight took place, April 12, as pilots from the Navy teamed up with ISR operators from the Air Force to provide Iraq’s Navy with a watchful eye over the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
“We flew our first ISR mission in support of Combined Task Force-Iraqi Maritime, which we feel is a significant achievement,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Scott Seeberger, King Air Military Training Team chief for the 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. “This flight marks the creation of a new alliance between the Iraqi Air Force and the new Iraqi Navy, particularly near Iraq’s oil facilities in the Arabian Gulf.”
Commander Seeberger said ensuring these facilities remain safe is a top priority for his crew.
“It is very important that these facilities are kept safe and the U.S. Navy has a big presence there in terms of ensuring its safety,” he said. “They [Navy] are building up the Iraqi Navy in the Basra area and one of the things they were lacking was an ISR capability.”
As Seeberger piloted the aircraft with the help of an Iraqi pilot, Staff Sgt. Joshua Roden, 321st AEAS mission sensor operator, provided those ISR capabilities from the back of a King Air platform during this aerial support first, while simultaneously advising an Iraqi lieutenant colonel on the process.
“This was a key stepping stone for integrating the Iraqi Air Force’s ISR capability with the Navy and getting them to use their many different wells of technology to work together and create a mission package to protect themselves,” said Roden.
“We received feedback a couple of days after the mission that they [the Iraqi military] were very pleased with the imagery, which leads me to believe the mission was a success and hopefully it is the beginning of a new partnership between the Iraqi Air force and Navy,” added Seeberger.
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tim Beckham,
U.S. Air Forces Central, Baghdad Media Outreach Team