United Kingdom Forces Return to Umm Qasr
November 20, 2009
Iron birds filled with U.K. servicemembers flew north Nov. 15 across the desert and along the Persian Gulf to meet their U.S. allies at Umm Qasr Naval Base in Southern Iraq. U.S. Army Blackhawks from the 1-169th General Aviation Battalion left Patton Airfield at Camp Arifjan in the morning and delivered their U.K. friends safely at their destination an hour later.
75 U.K. personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and British Army have rejoined their U.S. allies after a four month break in the Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission -Navy (ITAM-N) based at Umm Qasr.
The coalition team, part of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, will work together to deliver training, advice and mentoring to their Iraqi Navy and Marine counterparts as part of the security transition mission in Iraq.
UK Capt. Jamie McMichael Phillips, the Commanding Officer of the ITAM-N team at Umm Qasr, expressed thanks to U.S. allies for the treatment he and his men got from their U.S. allies leading up to the start of their mission.
"I am extremely grateful to the US Army Central Command (Third Army) team and particularly the 1st Theatre Sustainment Command, 593rd Support Battalion, Team Gator and Task Force Aviation who have pulled out all the stops to look after us and get us back into Iraq in a safe and timely fashion," said McMichael Phillips. "We couldn't have done it without them."
U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Scott Jones, Director of the Coalition Naval Advisory and Training Team, believes that U.K. military involvement at Umm Qasr will bring a lot to the task there.
"We embrace the U.K. partnership here at Umm Qasr as it only adds to the betterment of the mission in training up the Iraqi Navy," said Jones. "The Iraqis are very proud of their Naval and Marine forces, as are we."
The Iraqi Naval service has taken on the crucial role of protecting its important oil platforms in the Northern Arabian Gulf, providing a wider defense of its territorial waters. They have taken delivery of two brand new Italian-built patrol ships to complement their existing force of patrol ships to ensure mission success.
The mentorship program at Umm Qasr is expected to last at least through 2011. With the U.K. team and their equipment being delivered to the Iraqi Theatre courtesy of Third Army, this joint coalition effort is one of the most dynamic and interactive in the region with the long-term goal being to train the Iraqi Naval forces to be self-sufficient."