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Iraq Recruiting English-Speaking Students As Pilots

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi Air Force is launching a recruitment plan to attract university students to be trained as pilots in the United States and other Western countries, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Muhammad al-Askari told RFI that the Iraqi Air Force command is inviting first- and second-year students in the English faculties of Iraqi universities to join the military as air force cadets who will be trained in the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and other Western countries.

He added that all students, irrespective of background, can apply and be accepted as long as they pass the language proficiency and physical fitness tests.

Al-Askari said female students are also invited to join the air force, where they will be trained to do other jobs.

Firyad Nawruz, a member of the parliament's security and defense committees, told RFI that the recruitment drive is a welcome step as the Iraqi Air Force has virtually been nonexistent since the 1991 Gulf War.