Air advisors support coalition, Iraqi air ops in Mosul offensive

  • Published
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force air advisors work hand-in-hand with their Iraqi counterparts at Qayyarah West airfield supporting coalition and Iraqi operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Mosul.

Qayyarah West airfield, located in the northern region of Iraq near Mosul, serves as a logistical hub for the offensive to recapture Iraq’s second largest city from ISIS fighters. The airfield, commonly referred to as “Q-West,” provides a strategic location for critical airlift, medical evacuation and attack weapons teams.

“Q-west is a critical hub for all operations to annihilate ISIS and has been vital to the Iraqi security forces success in Mosul and western Ninewah operations,” said Capt. Richard Pecek, the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, Detachment 1 airfield flight commander. “The U.S. Air Force works closely in hand with the Iraqi air force and army aviation command to manage the airfield operations here.”

The Iraqi air force and army aviation command execute numerous Iraqi C-130J airlift, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and helicopter attack weapons teams out of Qayyarah West every day.

To ensure seamless control of both Iraqi and coalition air traffic, the 370th AEAG supports the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve’s advise and assist mission by having a small team of air advisors at Qayyarah West airfield working alongside the Iraqis, advising and assisting in day-to-day airfield operations.

“The number one priority of the advise and assist mission is making sure the Iraqis have the necessities to conduct airfield operations on their own,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Ramos, a 370th AEAG Detachment 1 air traffic controller. “We are working hand-in-hand, completing the same mission, breaking bread with our counterparts and opening information flow about what they need to help the mission. They already have the skills and training to run airfield operations; we are just assisting them to perfect their abilities and ensuring they have the necessities to be able to run this once we leave.”

Recently, the 370th AEAG helped build living and operations areas to support the sustainment of additional Iraqi air force and army aviation command personnel. Airmen assisted with installation of electrical and cooling equipment for the Iraqi air force’s airfield operations building to house personnel on the airfield around-the-clock.

“The main focus of our advise and assist mission is on air traffic control, airfield management and weather, but it really takes a team effort from everyone to not only maintain operational ability, but to help build up the Iraqis’ capabilities to support their self-sustainment,” said Pecek.

Aerial porters assigned to the 442nd Air Expeditionary Squadron, 370th AEAG, helped set up an aerial port function for the Iraqi military to oversee movement of passengers and cargo at the main logistical distribution center for the Mosul front. The aerial porters advise and assist the Iraqi air force and army aviation command with the unloading of aircraft and cargo storage, which also serves to support the forward operating base’s sustainment.

The 370th AEAG also supports the U.S. Army’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System mission. Over the past four months, the aerial porters received more than 60 tons of HIMARs to resupply the Army fire mission while the air traffic controllers worked with their Iraqi counterparts to de-conflict the air space for launches.

The 370th AEAG detachment aerial porters and airfield operations personnel wouldn’t be able to keep the logistics moving without the support of its expeditionary maintenance liaisons and their joint service partners in firefighting and communications.

Future projects under the Iraq Train and Equip Funding program will provide vehicles and equipment for firefighting and cargo handling operations, as well as, allow a more active advise and assist role in vehicle maintenance and other equipment training areas.

“The Iraqi Air Force continues to increase their airfield operations capabilities at Qayyarah West each and every day and we will continue to partner alongside to assist in building these capabilities,” said Pecek.