Capt. Sean Reynolds, an Iraqi Air Operations Center intelligence advisor with the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission, speaks with an Iraqi air force officer Nov. 25, 2009 at Camp Victory, Iraq. The prior-enlisted officer served as an Arabic linguist for seven years and says understanding the language has helped facilitate communication throughout the IAOC. Captain Reynolds is deployed from Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, and hails from San Diego, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Johnny L. Saldivar)
11/30/2009 - CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (AFNS) -- A U.S. Air Force officer assigned to the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission is an adviser to Iraqi intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance airmen within the Iraqi Air Operations Center.
Capt. Sean Reynolds, an IAOC intelligence advisor, helps Iraqi airmen with ISR mission scheduling and planning while advising them on how to make their processes better and integrate with Iraqi ground and naval forces. The captain, who is deployed from Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, says he believes in the saying, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. " Therefore, he works daily to build a strong relationship with his Iraqi equivalents.
"One of the keys to being an advisor within this culture is to build a relationship first," Captain Reynolds said. "To do that, we hang out with the Iraqis every day. Whether it's having coffee with them, talking about families, or watching an ISR mission. "
The prior-enlisted officer served as an Arabic linguist for seven years and says understanding the language has helped facilitate communication throughout the IAOC. Although he feels he's a little "rusty," the Iraqi airmen were excited to learn their American advisor could comprehend the language.
"It's great to be able to use Arabic again," he said. "The number-one thing it helps with is building relationships with Iraqis. Knowing even a little bit of the language really helps build rapport. They don't meet many Americans who speak Arabic. The most difficult part for me is still the local Iraqi dialect. When they lay it on thick, I have to back them up and tell them to slow it down a little bit. "
Nonetheless, communication has proved to be effective, and the Iraqis have proven to be capable of handling their missions.
"One of the biggest successes I've been a part of so far was the first Iraqi Hellfire missile launch," the captain said. "Now the Iraqis have the no-kidding ability to shoot a missile from the air and engage a ground target. "
Several groups were part of this accomplishment, from load crews to pilots. For his part, the captain said the ISR Airmen completed seven dry runs of the exercise before the live mission was executed to ensure pre-strike planning and targeting was correct.
Iraqi 1st Lt. Hikmet Fadhel, intelligence officer, is very happy with the progress his air force has made, and says he is hopeful for the future.
All-in-all, Captain Reynolds says this deployment has been enjoyable and unique thus far.
"I like my job a lot," he said. "It's not at all like what you'd do on a normal intelligence deployment. These are really good dudes. They're working hard.
"A lot of them take great risks to be in their own military," Captain Reynolds continued. "They risk their lives and their families' lives just to be here. They have set out to make their country better. Being a part of that and to witness that first hand, witness the rebirth of an air force, is good. "