Iraqi airmen learn to protect leaders

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Levi Riendeau
  • 321st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Prompted by assassinations of Iraqi military leaders, Iraqi airmen are receiving personal security operations training from members of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations here.

According to the April 2011 Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction quarterly report, between January 18 and April 15, there were more than 30 assassination attempts on Iraqi officials, more than 20 of them resulting in the official's death. In order to curb this trend, Iraqi air force officials sought out experts in the field of personal security and turned to OSI for advice.

Special Agent Masashi Yamazaki, an OSI personal security adviser, led the PSO training, which was facilitated by the 447th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron's Iraqi trainers. Eight Iraqi students were chosen for the special course in addition to more than three months of recent training with the 447th ESFS.

"I'm hoping to share basic knowledge for PSO so they can come up with their own personal security program," he said.

Agent Yamazaki drew on his past training and personal experience with OSI, which is the executive office that provides protective services to Air Force senior leaders.

"We're trying to build up assets as opposed to just learning skills," said 1st Lt. Jacob Stephenson, assigned to the 447th ESFS.

The assets taught not only drew on previous training they had with the 447th ESFS, but also explores how the Air Force protects its own leaders.

The training covered a wide range of topics, such as an individual protecting a distinguished visitor to a whole squad providing vehicular security for transportation.

"I want them to adapt it, change it, revise it and then make it fit to accommodate their needs," Agent Yamazaki said.

Since they graduated the course June 8, it is now up to Iraqi air force officials to develop their own security program and start protecting their leaders, Lieutenant Stephenson said. That leaves a huge responsibility for the Iraqi security forces, one that Lieutenant Stephenson believes they are more than capable of handling.

"This group that we've worked with for the last three months, they are ready to go," he said.

The Iraqi security forces members will provide security for Iraqi air force leaders, providing stability by protecting their lives and ideals.

"That stability may make the (Iraqi air force) stronger and be able to self sustain rather than rely on other nations," Agent Yamazaki said.

The 447th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron is a subordinate unit of the 321st Air Expeditionary Wing, which is the wing responsible for the Iraq Training Advisory Mission-Air. Members of ITAM-Air train, advise and assist the Iraqi air force to develop as a professional and credible regional airpower partner, with the ability to maintain internal security and defend against external threats.