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Iraq Defense Attaché visits Columbus AFB, helps strengthen international relations

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- Iraqi Staff Brig. Gen. Mustafa Al Bayati, Iraq Defense Attaché, spoke with instructor pilots, Airmen and senior leaders at Columbus Air Force Base, Jan. 18.

Bayati said there were three essential reasons for his visit: he wanted to see the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training program, to meet with the Iraqi student pilots and to strengthen both American and Iraqi militaries by building a stronger relationship.

The Iraqi general began at the 14th Operations Group and spoke to their leadership about pilot training. He then went to the T-6 Texan II training squadrons and 50th Flying Training Squadron to speak with instructor pilots and Iraqi student pilots about their training. He was briefed on the SUPT program in its current state and saw the training techniques used to create world-class military aviators.

“I’m very happy to see the young pilots,” Bayati said. “The training they are going through here is advanced and we are happy to have students here. We have to be consistently integrating with other countries because it allows us to learn from one another.”

Bayati had lunch with the student pilots and asked about their experience in pilot training. He said by having his pilots in the SUPT program, the Iraqi training can continue to improve by building a parallel training program.

“When we train their students, they get a taste of the U.S. and bring back that knowledge,” said Col. Stuart, 14th OG commander. “The relationship building is really important, especially because one day they may be the leaders of their military.”

Stuart thanked Bayati for visiting and noted the general was pleased with the training the Iraqi student pilots received.

Bayati personally thanked the U.S. and 14th Flying Training Wing leadership for letting him visit. He also said he appreciated the time given to him and believes the partnership they currently have is very important.

Bayati left Columbus AFB with a few more words of thanks and asked for continuing support of Iraq and their pilots.

“Two nations working together is stronger than a nation fighting alone,” he said.

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