821st ETRS helps Iraqi airmen master core value

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. R. Michael Longoria
  • 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force-Iraq/ Air Component Coordination Element-Iraq PA
As you walk into the Iraqi Air Force Training School here, you will notice the words integrity, military discipline, loyalty to the homeland and English language posted on the walls. These are the Iraqi air force core values.

Airmen, civilians and contractors assigned to the 821st Expeditionary Training Squadron educate, train, advise and assist the faculty and students at the training school in an effort to build the foundation of a credible, self-sustaining Iraqi air force.

"Mastering the English language is a key to the future success of Iraqi air force operations," said Lt. Col. Dawn A. Nickell, 821st ETRS commander.

English holds such a high priority for the Iraqi air force because it is the internationally recognized language standard for aviation. In addition to satisfying the Iraqi air force's fourth core value, learning English is a requirement before Iraqi airmen can take other technical training courses. For example, pilots can't speak to air traffic controllers without some level of English language training.

"The English language is the language of the world," said the Iraqi Air Force Training School commandant. "We must learn this language to improve our skills."

The ELT at the Iraqi Air Force Training School is based on the Defense Language Institutes' program for teaching the English language. DLI is a Department of Defense educational and research institution, which provides linguistic and cultural instruction to the DOD, other federal agencies and numerous other customers, such as the Iraqi air force. The program here consists of 36 books and can take up to 12 months to complete. All students must take a proficiency test to determine their entry skill level before starting the training.

"After the students take their placement exam, we place them in the appropriate book for their skill level and then assign them a teacher," said Maj. Korey Vaughn, the 821st ETRS English language training chief.

While air advisers work with the faculty to help them improve the way the overall program is run, it is the 19 U.S. contractors and lone DLI civilian who work face-to-face on with the students. Those 20 instructors teach a student body of more than 200 Iraqis.

To date, 28 students have completed the training, which has seen many improvements since the existing ELT program started in October 2010. The program has seen an increase in attendance, and air advisers have turned over all ELT materials to Iraqi control. However, school officials are looking to make more changes and become more self-sufficient.

"We are looking for the English language training to get even better in the future," said the school's commandant. "We would like to start using Iraqi instructors instead of contractors from the United States."