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Welcome to the Neighborhood
Michael Ubaldi, November 22, 2004.

The steady assembly of the new Iraqi air force has been underway for months. What to make of this:

The United Arab Emirates delivered four Comp Air 7SL aircraft to Basrah Air Base Nov. 13 to be used by the Iraqi Air Force. The aircraft were a gift to help Iraq’s air force continue to build its operational capability. Three more Comp Air aircraft will be delivered within the next two weeks.

The Comp Air 7SL, built by Aerocomp Inc., is a light turbo-prop aircraft that has six seats and a sensor suite enabling it to have a reconnaissance capability, although current intentions see them being used in a utility role. The seven aircraft represent one half of a gift from the U.A.E. and will be augmented by four Bell Jet Ranger Helicopters in late December.

So far four Iraqi air force pilots have completed training on the Comp Airs in the U.A.E.. Comp Air continuation training will be based out of Basrah until new facilities are completed at Baghdad International Airport at the end of January 2005.

While the Emirates is on friendly terms with the United States, its relationship is nowhere near the qualified strategic relations of, say, Jordan. Has the U.A.E. seen the writing on the wall?

IN OTHER NEWS: A Civil Military Operations Center has been established in Fallujah to direct reconstruction efforts and facilitate the return of residents. The military makes a point to note that "there are no indications of a humanitarian crisis or shortage of relief supplies." Meanwhile, the 701st Main Support Battalion just finished building the first girls' school in Tikrit, where "the girls were very interested in speaking to the female officers and had many questions about their leadership roles in the US military." German donations played a vital role.