Partnership Day strengthens Iraqi, U.S. military ties
December 19, 2007
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - American Soldiers and Iraqi soldiers have a lot in common. Besides the obvious fact that they both love their country and volunteered to defend it; many of them have a love for aviation.
Soldiers from Task Force XII got a chance to learn this and more about Soldiers in the Iraqi air force when they exchanged aviation stories during Iraqi Partnership Day Dec 11.
"The main goal of this day is to continue to improve the relationship between the U.S. and Iraqi military," said Col. Timothy J. Edens, the commander of Task Force XII and an AH-64 Apache pilot. "It's important for us, as aviators, to have a strong relationship with our Iraqi counterparts."
This relationship between these coalition aviation forces began with 1st Air Cavalry Brigade and grew throughout the course of their deployment.
It is a privilege to participate in this Partnership Day and continue to improve this special relationship with such a skilled group of soldiers, said 1st ACB commander, Col. Dan Shanahan.
The Partnership Day began with a visit to the Taji Wing, air force area of operation. This is where the Iraqi air force live, train and work.
"I would personally like to express my thanks to the U.S. military for all the help they have provided," said Gen Sati, commander of the Taji Wing, air force. "Through our military relations, we have successfully achieved the targeted goals for the Iraqi air force."
During the tour, Sati, who is also a pilot, gave Edens and Shanahan a tour of the inside of a Mi-17 and a few other Iraq aircraft.
"It's a great honor for me to have Gen. Sati, and his soldiers, to take the time to give us a tour of their facilities," said Edens. "I'm confident that (our) pilots will learn as much from them as they will from us."
"I'm an old crew chief and I think it's outstanding how much they take pride in their job," said Task Force XII Commander Sgt. Maj. H. Lee Kennedy. "I'd fly with these guys any day."
After the tour, several Iraqi air force personnel were invited to Command Sgt. Maj. Cook Dining Facility for a dinner with the leadership from Task Force XII and 1st ACB.
"These guys are just a wonderful group of soldiers, and I think they're very eloquent and total professionals," said Kennedy. "I'm proud to know that we will get the opportunity to work with such a wonderful bunch of guys."
During the dinner, Shanahan was presented with a plaque as a token of appreciation, from Sati and his soldiers, for all 1st ACB has done for them since their arrival in Iraq.
"I'm sure Col. Shanahan will not forget us but this gift is to ensure Taji always stays in the center of his heart," said Sati. "I would like to thank (Edens and Shanahan) for the invitation, and I hope that we will receive more invitations in the future."
This Partnership Day will be the last for 1st ACB, but the first of many for Task Force XII Soldiers.
"I really enjoyed the conversations Gen. Sati and I had," said Edens. "I think he is a well spoken man and great leader. I wish him, and his soldiers, nothing but the best."