Iraq Air Force meteorologists take important first steps

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On March 12 the Iraq Air Force meteorology department made a very important step in becoming a credible and enduring member of the World Meteorology Organization when they issued their first Terminal Aerodrome Forecast since 2003.

With Air Force weather trainers and advisors looking on, Iraq Air Force Maj. Majid, Capt. Naama, 2nd Lt. Ahmed and 2nd Lt. Thair put what they have been taught for the last three months to operational use and issued a TAF for two Iraq Air Bases.

The members of the Iraq Air Force meteorology department will continue in an on-the-job training status for the next 2-3 weeks developing their techniques and processes before assuming full operational support to the Iraq Minister of Defence and its military forces.

This historic day was the culmination of 52 days of intense classroom training for the first class of Iraq meteorologists. The team of Capt. David Finlay, Master Sgt. Mario Viray and Tech. Sgt. Joel Rybarczyk put the officers through a condensed version of the U.S. Air Force weather's initial skill course with great results.

"It was a proud moment when they pushed the send button to deliver the TAF to the world," said Capt. Finlay.

"This was a day I only dreamed of seeing when I arrived in Iraq 11 months ago," said Maj. Barry Hunte, lead advisor to the Iraq meteorology department.

When Major Hunte first met with Col. Salman, Iraq Air Force meteorology department director, they agreed that training was the number one priority for his department.

"The issuing of these TAFs is the direct result of Colonel Salman and his meteorologist's commitment to seeing the Iraq Air Force meteorology department become a credible and enduring member of the WMO," Maj. Hunte said.

The department will continue in an OJT status until approximately May 10, at which time they will start issuing three TAFs a day for nine locations, supporting more than 90 aviation assets along with the rest of the ministry of defence's forces.

Until the Iraqi's own connection to the WMO is working, Air Force Weather Agency will help with the distribution of the TAFs to the WMO. Colonel Salman is very thankful for this support while his country continues to recover and grow.