US and Iraq conduct joint-aerial response force exercise
The US and Iraqi armies have conducted a joint-aerial response force exercise (ARFEX) at Camp Taji Military Complex in Iraq.
The ARFEX seeks to increase interoperability between US and Iraqi forces during Operation Inherent Resolve, which is aimed at defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) was set up in 2014 to formalise ongoing military actions against the increasing threat posed by ISIS.
Iraqi Security Force (ISF) personnel participated in the ARFEX alongside soldiers from the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Red Falcon.
29th Combat Aviation Brigade partnership officer captain Logan Reed said: "This is a big step beyond any previous US Army aviation partnership with Iraqi army aviators in the last four years.”
The exercise commenced when a US HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter from the 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion, Task Force Rough Riders, was forced to land due to simulated maintenance issues.
This required both US Army paratroopers and the ISF to establish a security perimeter around the downed helicopter.
The AH-64E Apache ‘Guardian’ helicopters from the US's 4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment provided aerial security coverage alongside Iraqi army aviation helicopters.
Both armies conducted multiple meetings and information exchanges, aircraft loading and unloading drills, communications exercises, coordination briefings, and rehearsals of concept in preparation for the exercise.
Image: A UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter (right) and a CH-47 Chinook helicopter land prior to inserting paratroopers during the aerial response force exercise at Camp Taji Military Complex, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of US Army / Capt. Stephen James.