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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2020

CTEF program equipment helps Iraqi Air Force control their skies

By Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve

Iraqi Security Forces received much needed equipment for their air force through the U.S Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF) program. CTEF supports PHASE IV "normalization" of the U.S. Government's strategy to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by building partner capacity under Title 10 to work "by, with and through" Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to build key capabilities and promote long term stability within the region by defeating and preventing the resurgence of ISIS.

The counter-ISIS strategy directed the U.S. Defense Department to degrade, dismantle and ultimately defeat ISIS using two primary lines of effort: denial of ISIS safe havens and building partner capacity.

Escorted by Polish special forces soldiers in up-armored vehicles, U.S. Soldiers and a British army officer from the CTEF program at Al Asad Air Base (AAAB), Iraq completed a task Oct. 15, 2020, that has been three years in the making.

Just outside the base, two tractor trailers carrying four large containers with air traffic control equipment were loaded onto Iraqi trucks and transported to their final destination at Q-West Air Base, Iraq.

Led by U.S. Army Capt. Adam Druffel, CTEF battalion operations officer in charge, and 1st Lt. Joshua T. Bowen, AAAB Forward Logistic Element CTEF responsible officer, the more than $1 million worth of equipment was signed over to Iraqi Maj. Gen. Saadoom Fouad, Q-West commander, which was intended to enhance ISF capabilities to defeat and continue the battle against ISIS.

“This is a lateral transferring of equipment to the Iraqi government,” said Druffel. “The air traffic control equipment is meant to invest in regional security in the Middle East by aiding the Iraqi government and strengthen their national security and resolve.”

From the initial request for the equipment by the Iraqi government, it has been a long journey to complete, with the last piece of this transaction made possible by the work of Druffel, Bowen, British Army Maj. Clive Rattenbury and other U.S. Soldiers assigned to the CTEF program.

“This program supports phase four normalization by building partner capacity beside, with, and through Iraqi Security Forces in their mission to defeat ISIS,” said U.S. Army Col. John M. Dreska, CTEF director at 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Operational Command Post.

The request was approved by U.S. Central Command and then funded through the National Defense Authorization Act, section 1236, which gives the Defense Department the authority to provide assistance to counter the Daesh. The trio of soldiers and others before them worked with the Defense Logistics Agency for equipment acquisition, which required contracting, manufacturing, shipping and transporting the equipment to AAAB. The process finally culminated three years later when Saadoom and Bowen signed the paperwork divesting the four containers from Coalition forces to the government of Iraq.

The delivery of this equipment was made possible by the CTEF program, which is designed to provide flexible and reliable source of funding, training, equipment and operational support to strengthen coalition partners and ISF capabilities to counter current, emergent, and future ISIS threats.

The CTEF program has been in place since 2014 and is funded through the Defense Department’s budget for Operation Inherent Resolve. The Iraqi government uses CTEF to identify critical repair parts needed to sustain operations to better protect their homeland. Q-West Air Base sustained significant damage to its infrastructure at the hands of ISIS, consequently, the need for an air traffic control equipment was critical for Saadoom.

“After the damage that happened in Q-West by ISIS elements that destroyed the whole infrastructure at the base, today, we received complete air traffic control equipment from the Coalition forces,” said Saadoom. “This will allow us to upgrade our air control capabilities in the area of operations of Q-West Air Base so we can continue fighting and defeating ISIS elements and other terrorist groups.”