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Wednesday, June 22, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. completes third air space sector transfer
to Iraq

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military, in another step toward full withdrawal, has withdrawn responsibility for Iraq's air space.


On June 1, the U.S. military transferred air space to the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority. The authority took over the so-called Ali sector or air space from the ground to 24,000 feet as well as assuming control over all aircraft on final approach, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Ali sector is a big milestone because it's the first airspace they will control down to the surface," Maj. Adam Fiedler, a U.S. military planner, said. "The [cumulating] transfers are important because they turn controls of the airspace back to the host nation civilian authorities and help facilitate our withdrawal from the country."

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Iraq has been assuming an increasing amount of airspace since January 2009. But officials said the latest transfer was the first time Iraq was given control of takeoffs and landings since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"The air space transfer shows confidence in the ICAA's capability to continue to normalize the air traffic control service in the country," U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gregory Kendrick said. "It also shows improvement in the capabilities of the ICAA's air traffic controllers and their maintenance personnel to maintain critical equipment that provides service to civilian aircraft."

So far, the U.S. military has completed three air space transfers over the last two years. The latest was in February, when Iraq received the air space in Samara, about one-third of the country.

Officials said Iraq would receive the remaining two air sectors by October. They identified the air sectors as Baghdad and Kirkuk, where the U.S. military remains in control from the ground to 15,000 feet.

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