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Iraqi air force graduates first C-130 craftsman maintenance technicians

The new capability to train and certify craftsman technicians will enable the government of Iraq to redirect funds away from contractor requirements to efforts of rebuilding infrastructure and cities and promoting stability and economic progression.

Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Husni Khazaal Al maliki, Al Muthana Technical Wing commander and Lt. Col. Ronald Llantada, 770th Air Expeditionary Advisor Squadron commander speak at a graduation ceremony, Dec. 27, 2017. The Iraqi Air Force certified their first 7-level craftsman C-130 Hercules maintenance technicians at the ceremony. (Courtesy photo)

The new capability to train and certify craftsman technicians will enable the government of Iraq to redirect funds away from contractor requirements to efforts of rebuilding infrastructure and cities and promoting stability and economic progression.

Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Husni Khazaal Al maliki (left), Al Muthana Technical Wing commander, and Lt. Col. Ronald Llantada, 770th Air Expeditionary Advisor Squadron commander, present Maj. Ausama Satal, one of the Iraqi Air Force’s first 7-level craftsman maintenance technicians, with a graduation certificate Dec. 27, 2017. The occasion represents a landmark in the Iraqi Air Force’s goal of achieving self-sufficiency through the development of its own skilled technical workforce. (Courtesy photo)

AL MUTHANA AIR BASE, Iraq (AFNS) -- The Iraqi Air Force certified their first 7-level craftsman C-130 Hercules maintenance technicians in a ceremony, December 27, 2017.

The occasion represents a landmark in the Iraqi Air Force’s goal of achieving self-sufficiency through the development of its own skilled technical workforce. Currently they rely on C-130J contract logistics support teams to provide the same skills, at a cost of approximately $140 million per year.

The new capability to train and certify craftsman technicians will enable the government of Iraq to redirect funds away from contractor requirements to efforts of rebuilding infrastructure and cities and promoting stability and economic progression.

“Today marks another forward step for the Iraqi Air Force towards a brighter future,” said Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen Husni Khazaal Al maliki, Al Muthana Technical Wing commander. “A promising future that I could see reflected in the faces of all of our graduates, due to their achievements. The dedication and hard work are very appreciated by both the students and their instructors. At the same time, I urge all graduates to continue this hard work throughout their professional life in the Iraqi Air Force and to help this wounded country stand strong against enemies of humanity.”

During the ceremony, Husni thanked the instructors and air advisors assigned to the 770th Air Expeditionary Advisor Squadron for making sacrifices to help Iraq and for being away from their families and friends during the holiday season.

In 2006, advisors from the 770th AEAS began introducing career field education training plans to Iraqi Air Force work center. CFETPs are comprehensive education and training documents which identify the training requirements and minimum core tasks needed for technicians to be signed off as being proficient in a specialty.

Upon a recent review of Iraqi Air Force aircraft maintenance proficiency data, the advisors identified a critical shortage of certified 7-level craftsmen maintainers. Craftsmen are expected to be fully qualified technicians who have proven they are ready to fill various supervisory and management positions.

The air advisors also determined there was a need to establish a maintenance training standard comparable to the U.S. Air Force, which requires 40% of qualified personnel to have their 7-level certification.

Lt. Col. Ronald Llantada, 770th AEAS commander said this 40% target will enable the Iraqi Air Force to take care of their home station aircrew training and mission requirements. This will give them the ability to employ their C-130J aircraft at other locations dictated by their mission.

Llantada commended his team for objectively assessing and identifying the training requirements required to improve Iraqi Air Force capabilities, enabling them to achieve the self-sufficiency they desire. He said their work generated a great return of effort and set a path for their replacements to continue the forward progression.

“As advisors, relationships greatly matter when trying to move the ball forward in a partnered journey,” said Llantada. “I would like to personally thank Brig. Gen. Husni for being receptive to our team’s recommendations, being ready to make decisions for the betterment of the Iraqi Air Force and for his hospitality and a friendship."

Husni echoed this sentiment.

“Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave special thanks to C-130J personnel and emphasized how essential the C-130J’s role in the liberation and defeat of ISIS,” said Husni. “The support and training given by the 770th AEAS directly impacted (the liberation), saving the Iraqi population and allowed for the rescue of the Sinjar people.”