April 28th, 2009 14:24 EST
Air Force Flight Surgeons Train Iraqi Counterparts
by Staff Sgt. Tim Beckham
U.S. Air Forces Central, Baghdad media outreach team
4/28/2009 - NEW AL MUTHANA AIR BASE, Iraq (AFNS) -- American Air Force flight surgeons continued their mission to teach and train Iraqi air force and army flight surgeons here recently to better prepare the Iraqi officers to eventually take over the aerospace medicine mission.
The Coalition Air Force Training Team is conducting a flight surgeon training course here in Iraq, said Col. (Dr.) William W. Dodson III, a Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq CAFTT surgeon.
"It is a four-week course and at the end we will graduate seven new Iraqi air force and Iraqi army flight surgeons," Dr. Dodson said. "Upon graduation the seven new flight surgeons will be able to not only perform physicals on student pilots who want to serve the country of Iraq, but also they will be able to take care of the current pilots. This will add to the strength of the Iraqi military."
This is the third class of Iraqi flight surgeons that will be graduating from the course. Not only are the Iraqi flight surgeons learning how to perform physicals on their future patients, but also they are learning how to outfit aircraft for aeromedical missions.
"Today we are learning how to convert the UH-1 Huey from a passenger version into an aeromedical version that can carry litters," Dr. Dodson said.
The doctors also learned to convert the C-130 Hercules to carry litters stacked on vertical racks. The course, currently being taught by both Americans and Iraqis, will eventually be taught by members of the Iraqi military exclusively.
"This course is currently being taught by more than 50 percent Iraqi physicians and we anticipate the next course being taught entirely by Iraqi physicians," Dr. Dodson said.
Iraqi air force Capt. Mohammed Al Hijami Kadhim, the lead Iraqi flight surgeon instructor, said having the coalition partnership in the training will ultimately help the Iraqis build continuity so that one day they can take over completely.
"This training is important because it is critical to do the aeromedical evacuation mission," he said. "We are very lucky that the coalition side is present here because we want them to teach us how to do this mission perfectly before we take it over."