COB Adder, Iraq - The United States Forces serving in Iraq provide a number of essential assets to support the Soldiers on the ground. From an Air Force and Army Aviation Corps providing security from the air to logistics and other support services that keep operations going.

As American forces draw down in Iraq according to the Status of Forces Agreement, the Iraqi Forces are working diligently to replace American-held support systems with equipment of their own. With the groundbreaking for a new Long Range Radar site on Contingency Operating Base Adder Apr. 27, the Government begins to build their ability to control the skies.

The site, which will be the home of a new Long Range Radar and Control Center, was visited by high-ranking officers of the Iraqi Army, including Staff Lt. Gen. Anwar, the Iraqi Air Forces Commander. Brig. Gen. Rick Gibbs, the USD-S Deputy Commanding General for Maneuver, and Brig. Gen. Scott Hanson, the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing Commanding Officer, were also present for the ceremony.

Gibbs said that the radar system improves the capabilities of the Iraqi Air Force not just by providing radar coverage but allowing Iraqi pilots to coordinate between pilots in the air and units on the ground.

"It will bring security to the nation of Iraq," said Gibbs, an Austin native. "We believe with this radar here it will enable airplanes to fly to greater range, out to the borders to provide sovereignty to the nation of Iraq and hence protecting its people."

Hanson described the abilities of the system, including long-range warning capabilities, and air control over a large amount of Southern Iraq, in an interview to show how the Iraqi Air Force is growing in capability.

"This is just one more step forward in all the things the Iraqi Air Force is growing in," Hanson, from Herndon, Va. said. "And it's really exciting to watch and be a part of."

Gibbs stated that the radar was an important part of the U.S. Forces' continued drawdown from Iraq, and the changing of responsibility from U.S -led operations to Government of Iraq control.

"Right now the Americans are providing a lot of the radar coverage," said Gibbs. "We're also providing a lot of the airplanes for air coverage. With this system it'll enable the Iraqis to do it themselves. We'll train them on the system and how to use it, we'll train them on the airframes so they can provide air-ground coverage, and it allows them time to grow their air force. It allows them to take over fully the missions we're providing for them now."

"We see the size of the Iraqi Air Force nearly doubling in the next year and a half," said Hanson. "So there'll be a lot of training to do, but they'll be a lot more capabe with all those additional air platforms."