Comm squadron teaches Iraqi counterparts networking skills
By Senior Airman Mindy Bloem , 506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
/ Published January 31, 2010
KIRKUK REGIONAL AIR BASE, Iraq -- Four Iraqi air force members sat in front of laptops, listening to an Airman from the 506th Expeditionary Communications Squadron teach about communication techniques at the command section of their building Jan. 30, 2010.
The training was just another step in the nation building component of the Air Force's mission to foster Iraqi self sufficiency.
"We think it's important because it's part of our mission here - to build nations and enable our Iraqi partners to be self sustaining. It's the old adage of instead of giving them a fish, we're teaching them how to fish," said Maj. John Tran, 506th ECS operations flight commander.
The 506th ECS is conducting six training sessions, twice a month. The six classes touch on various areas of communication techniques.
Senior Airman Andre Taylor, 506th ECS computer switching and cryptographic technician, volunteered to instruct the Iraqis in some of the basic configurations of communication methods.
Airman Taylor had just gotten off a 14-hour shift but wanted to stay around to instruct his Iraqi counterparts.
"It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling," he said. "It's not every day that you get to come to Iraq and help somebody. I want to use this opportunity to excel, show what I know, and pass it on to someone else."
The first session covered basic communication information. The instruction will start small and progress gradually after each session - the end goal being self support.
"They should be able to maintain their own networks by the time we're done teaching them," said Airman Taylor. "They should be able to build them up from the ground, and then maintain them to the highest capabilities."
Airman Taylor was excited for the teaching opportunity but admitted feeling some nervousness.
"It's going to be weird," he said. "I want to get a baseline of what they know before I open my mouth and start spouting off random information. But I'm looking forward to passing on what I know to help them build up their infrastructure and get things going in Iraq the way they're supposed to go."
During the first classroom session, the Iraqis seemed ready to learn and asked questions throughout the instruction period.
Major Tran believes the interaction between the two forces is also important to the overall mission
"They are extremely excited," the major said of the Iraqis. "They are definitely fast learners. So on the technical side, they're learning things; on the not so technical side, they're bonding with our troops, getting along well and building friendships.
For Airman 1st Class Chris Redman, also a 506th ECS computer switching and cryptographic technician, the training serves as barometer for where the Iraqis are in their understanding of basic communication.
"It's important to see what level of communication they're at and help them get to a higher level. If they are at a high level already, then we can help them improve on that. We are just giving them our knowledge so they can go do this on their own once we're gone.
It also makes him feel like he's giving back.
"As a young A1C, I just learned this stuff myself, so to reverse the role from a student to a teacher feels good. It makes me feel good about myself - that I'm confident enough in my job to train someone else."