Leadership: November 21, 2002

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One reason the U.S. Air Force is so confident that it can make short work of Iraqi armed forces if there is another war is, quite simply, because they have been there before. Much valuable information, and practical experience, about operating over Iraq was collected during the 1991 Gulf War. Normally, a lot of this experience would be forgotten (but not lost, the services now write numerous detailed reports about their combat experiences.) But the US air forces, and the British Royal Air Force, has been regularly flying warplanes over Iraq since 1991. Because the Iraqis have regularly been firing at these aircraft, and getting bombed for their trouble, thousands of pilots now have combat experience over Iraq. Each part of the world has unique geography, and weather, that combat pilots have to get used to before they can become completely effective. This experience even extends to ground crews, who have to learn how to deal with the large quantities of dust and sand aircraft engines take in when flying through the sand storms that frequent the area. Pilots and staffs have also compiled lots of data, and experience, about how Iraqi air defenses operate. There would still be some surprises if war comes, as the Iraqis are smart enough to come up with some new combat techniques that they keep secret until there actually a war. But if it does come to that, the Iraqis will be faced with a lot of pilots who are very familiar with operating in Iraqi air space.

 


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