CAFTTCoalition Air Force Training Team
CAFTTCoalition Air Forces Transition Team (US Air Force)
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The essence of the plan is the CAFTT's mission statement: "Build an Iraqi Air Force capable of conducting sustained operations, focused on the COIN fight in the near-term, in order to defeat terrorism and create a stable environment, while setting the conditions for achieving air sovereignty." (11) Expanding on this statement, the CAFTT commander's intent calls for build[ing] a credible objective Air Force capable of conducting sustained operations in defense of Iraq.
Fulfilling these objectives requires that the CAFTT operate simultaneously along three lines of operation: (1) the traditional build-train-educate-sustain effort, (2) the operational charge to conduct CoIn operations, and (3) the effort to build a force that can protect Iraq's air sovereignty.
The only realistic approach to filling the gap--a method that allowed the CAFTT to make a lasting change to the culture of the IqAF--involved recruiting and training to produce a new generation of Airmen.
To meet the growing demand for young officers, the CAFTT also developed and won approval from the Iraqi minister of defense to initiate a six-month Officer Training School--style commissioning program geared toward university graduates with engineering degrees.
They did this through collaborative efforts and coordination with their functional counterparts on the CAFTT and IqAF staffs and with continuous input from subject-matter experts in the field.
Beyond conducting formal training in schools, CAFTT members also perform the more traditional missions of aviation advisors, typically performed by the operational aviation detachments of the 6th Special Operations Squadron.
To fill that void, CAFTT advisors worked hand in hand with their IqAF counterparts to build a modest air operations center collocated with a newly formed IqAF operational headquarters in the Victory Base Complex.
CAFTT program managers are currently working with IqAF leadership to acquire several aircraft through the foreign military sales program for the purpose of increasing the range of operational effects at the IqAF's disposal.
The CAFTT's predeployment training continues to evolve.
Gaining a better understanding of their Iraqi counterparts requires that future CAFTT advisors possess general knowledge of the history of the Middle East, with a specific focus on the development of Islam and Arab history--which are not the same thing.
A majority of the CAFTT's flying aviation advisors never served in the th special Operations Squadron, and several had never learned basic tactics.
Meanwhile, CAFTT members will continue performing one of the most challenging, exciting, and rewarding jobs in today's air force.