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Iraqi air force Squadron 70 launches first ISR mission from Ali Base

Iraqi air force CH-2000s arrive Oct. 17, 2010, at Ali Air Base, Iraq, after being transferred from Basrah Air Base by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Donner)

ALI AIR BASE, Iraq -- Iraqi air force CH-2000s arrive here Oct. 17 after being transferred from Basrah Air Base by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Donner

An Iraqi air force airman checks for damage after a sand storm, Oct. 24, 2010, at Ali Air Base, Iraq.  Iraqi air force Squadron 70 flew the aircraft to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Perry Aston)

ALI AIR BASE, Iraq -- An Iraqi air force airman checks a CH-2000 for damage after a sand storm here Oct. 24. Iraqi air force Squadron 70, which recently arrived here from Basrah Air Base, flew the aircraft to conduct one of it's first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from this location. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Perry Aston

ALI BASE, Iraq (AFNS) -- Members of the Iragi air force Squadron 70 flew their first operational mission from here Oct. 25, just one week after relocating from Basra Air Base, Iraq, to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support over the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

In addition to flying a joint effort with Army AH-64 Apaches in support of the Hajj, Iraqi airmen and U.S. Soldiers provided ISR support to a main supply route and oil pipeline.

Before moving to Ali Base Oct. 17, at the direction of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, a five-person Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Air Force Base Transition Team made preparations for the seven CH-2000 ISR aircraft and 100-plus Iraqi airmen.

The team worked with the Iraqis to identify what equipment and facilities they needed to make the move successful.

"My role in bringing the Iraqi air force to this base was to find a location that was open, so the Army garrison could provide for the Iraqis, identify the things the Iraqis needed to sustain themselves and finally to help them get their missions going so they could do all the things they need to do for the Iraqi government and people," said Lt. Col. Bill Stahl, the BTT chief.

The BTT was able to help Squadron 70 move in and launch its first mission from Ali Base.

"If we need something, they will get it for us, so we can be prepared to start our mission," said Iraqi air force Brig. Gen. Hakim, the Ali Base commander. "We have good cooperation and good experience with the Americans from 2003 to now and we take all the good things from them. I appreciate the team of advisers."

Now that Squadron 70 has arrived and is operational, the Iraqi air force can reestablish its presence in southern Iraq.

"The location for this base is the center of the South," said Iraqi air force Col. Nazih, the Squadron 70 commander. "We can cover all of the South from Baghdad to (the) Kuwati border, (the) Iranian border and Saudi border. I think it's the best location for an Iraqi air force base. We have a good base because the U.S. Air Force did a good job with the runway, new tower, everything. Now I think it's ready. I am happy to continue our mission for success in the Iraqi air force."