By Staff Sgt. Nathan Hoskins, 1st ACB, 1st CAV DIV, USD-CApril 8, 2010
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Leaders from 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division-Center, joined with their Iraqi Air Force counterparts April 4 to bid each other farewell.
The event brought a year-long partnership to an end but solidified a lasting friendship.
"I feel that you are becoming a part of Iraq," said Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Nazim Liftah al-Agwadi, commander, al-Taji Air Field. "We have a saying in Arabic that when you've spent 40 days with the guys, you learn their habits - you become one of them.
"You have just spent one year [in Iraq.] I feel that you are like Iraq, like the people of Iraq and, at last, you are like the people of Taji," added Nazim.
The bonds that were created in the year started off with some apprehensions and preconceptions on both sides, said Nazim.
He explained that when the Soldiers hear things about the Iraqi people and culture from the media and the Iraqis hear things about Americans from their media, confusion and misunderstanding can create problems.
"But when we mix together and we see your culture and you do the same, we see something different than what the propaganda said," Nazim said.
Col. Douglas Gabram of Cleveland, Ohio, commander of 1st ACB, echoed Nazim's sentiments.
He explained that nearly a year ago, in front of Nazim's headquarters, they signed papers on a partnership plan. Now, with multiple joint missions and joint exercises behind them, they stood together, where the partnership began, to say goodbye.
"The paper is only important to get things going," Gabram said. "From there, it takes - we have an equation - mutual trust plus personal relationship equals friendship and partnership.
"Together, we've provided the climate and the atmosphere and the environment for the leadership to do a lot of great things," Gabram added.
Though 1st ACB helped cultivate a war-fighting Iraqi Air Force at Taji, they wouldn't have been as successful without the help of the U.S. Air Force, who trained the Iraqi pilots in basic and advanced flying techniques, he said.
Also in attendance was Col. Frank Muth from Fort Riley, Kan., commander, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, whose team will replace 1st ACB at Camp Taji.
With the transfer of authority close at hand, Muth and his team have already been developing the partnership 1st ACB established.
"It's clear that the partnership that has been established over the last year with these two great teams, and the (U.S.) Air Force is incredible; and it's a strong bond," Muth said. "We look forward to not only joining your team in our partnership and growing those bonds stronger, [but] continuing this great relationship over the next year."