Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Perspetive: Going second helps unit prepare for tour in Iraq

A F-16 takes off from Balad Air Base on its way to air support mission in February.

Being second has its benefits.

As the 13th Fighter Squadron heads into its final weeks of training before deploying to Iraq, its pilots are tailoring their flying drills to lessons learned from the squadron that went first.

The 13th will replace Misawa’s other F-16 fighter squadron, the 14th, at Balad Air Base north of Baghdad this month.

“It’s a huge advantage for us,” said Capt. Larry Sullivan, 30, a 13th pilot from Lexington, Mass. “It’s the ‘Wild Weasels’ and the 35th Fighter Wing that’s deployed over there. Half of us went first. We’re trying to exploit the advantage that we have.”

In Iraq, the 13th will assume the same role as the 14th, which since January has been providing close-air support to U.S. and coalition troops on the ground.

Read the rest at Stars and Stripes