When an Iraqi Mi-17 helicopter crashed last month in Taji, killing five Iraqi Airmen, personnel from the Iraq Training and Advising Mission-Air Force moved quickly to provide a Critical Incident Stress Management team to support to the students and cadre at the joint training base.
ITAM-AF has been training the Iraqi air force’s aircrews on Mi-17 operations since 2007, and as a result, they have created a strong partnership with their counterparts.
Recognizing the extreme emotional and psychological impact the crash could have on personnel stationed at Taji a CISM team was assembled to provide support for the 721st Expeditionary Advisory Squadron and their sister squadron.
“Our Air Force aircrew members have created very close friendships over the years with the Iraqi counterparts,” said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Fuller, 321st Air Expeditionary Wing and ITAM-AF command chief. “When we learned of the tragic event, we were very saddened and felt as if we lost a team of our own.”
The critical-incident stress management team featured specialists trained to help prevent or mitigate stress when a sudden death, tragedy, serious injury or threatening situation happens. People that witness or experience a traumatic event may experience thoughts and changes in their life they have a hard time understanding, and the team offers them the tools they need to adapt and overcome.
While lending an ear and sharing with their counterparts, ITAM-AF demonstrated their partnership extended beyond their training and advising role. According to Fuller, this was the first time an Air Force CISM team directly impacted their Iraqi counterparts.
“Our mission is to train and advise but we are also committed to building life-long relationships,” the Chief said. “We are here to assist in any way and stand should to shoulder with our fellow Iraqi Airmen, through good times and bad.
Article by Staff Sergeant Sanja Allen, U.S. Air Forces Central, Baghdad Media Outreach Team