An Air Force of fear
Notice the hoods. The Iraqi army wears them,'
Iraqi guerrillas do not.
Fear flies high at new Iraq air force's first base
By Nick Olivari
Updated: 3:38 p.m. ET March 8, 2006
BAGHDAD - There are no fighter jets and the officers are too frightened to reveal their identities, but Iraq's new air force finally has its own field.
Fear appeared to be the main theme on the minds of Muthana's officers and ground crew. They are frightened their national service will endanger their families in a country beset by a bloody insurgency and growing tit-for-tat violence between Iraq's two predominant Muslim sects that has killed hundreds.
"We are afraid for our families, there is no one to protect them," said 23 Squadron leader, calling himself only Col. Samir.
A flight instructor under his command who would only give his name as Lt. Col. Jaber agreed and wondered what protection junior officers could rely upon when assassins were able to shoot dead an Iraqi Army division commander on Monday.
"They kidnap our children, they are trying to kill us," Jaber said. "If you take our names or pictures, we have to leave Iraq or they will kill us."
The few aircraft on the runway bring a smile to the officers and men at Muthana, many of whom served in the old days under Saddam. Iraq's armed forces were disbanded after the 2003 invasion and the pilots are keen to get back to flying.
But a nearby explosion shortly before Muthana's ribbon cutting ceremony reminds everyone of the enormous task ahead and conversations with journalists are suddenly cut short.
My cousin's husband is an Air Force officer. He doesn't lie about his profession or live in fear of cameras.
The fact that the Iraqis do say all you need to know about who's winning this war.
posted by Steve @ 10:38:00 AM