Cleared that one up, possibly
In an earlier post I had been speculating about the low-flying jets out of the local ANG base and what it might mean. Well, possibly it was worse, to some extent, as witness this article over at Common Dreams:
“What the U.S. forces are doing now is increasing their air force potential in a last attempt to crush the fighters with the minimum casualties possible,” retired Iraqi Army colonel Mustafa Abbood from Baghdad told IPS. “It is a desperate attempt to make Iraqis turn against their fellow-fighters. It failed in Fallujah, and I do not see how it will work elsewhere.”
Iraqis around Baghdad say they have noticed more air traffic in recent months. “There is a notable increase in the number of airplanes flying in the Iraqi skies,” Amjad Fadhil, a farmer from Latifiya, south of Baghdad, told IPS. “F-16s and helicopters are roaring like monsters everywhere.” There are more than 100 U.S. aircraft crisscrossing Iraqi air space at any one time.
Air Force engineers are working long hours to upgrade Balad air base, just north of Baghdad, which already supports 10,000 air operations per week. One of the two 11,000-foot runways has been reinforced to withstand five to seven years more of hard use.
So maybe I was wrong and those pilots WERE being trained for Iraq. Sure, there probably aren't many anti-aircraft batteries in Iraq, but given that the Pentagon and White House seem to be contemptuous of National Guards troops anyway, maybe their attitude is "the more people we have dropping bombs the better, and who cares what their speciality is".