Iraqi Armored Brigade Ready to Assume Battle Space
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 12, 2006 An Iraqi armored brigade is ready to take its place on the battlefield, military transition team officials said yesterday.
The 2nd Brigade of the 9th Iraqi Division will assume responsibility for battle space in this region north of Baghdad May 15. The unit's soldiers will join fellow tankers of the 1st Brigade, who assumed responsibility for defending Iraqi territory in December.
The brigade has four battalions, three combat and one maintenance and supply. It is equipped with T-72 tanks from Hungary and BMP armored fighting vehicles from Greece. The unit will take over the area just north of this sprawling American and Iraqi camp.
The brigade has been partnered with U.S. units since February and has figured in operations throughout the area around Taji. Following the February bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, tanks from the brigade deployed to Baghdad to protect shrines in the city.
In June, the 9th Division will assume operational control of the 1st and 2nd brigades. The Iraqi division will report through the U.S. 4th Infantry Division, the main unit of Multinational Division Baghdad, but will be responsible for all operational decisions in the battle space.
U.S. military transition team soldiers will use a command post exercise concluded yesterday to validate the 9th Division's progress. The American soldiers will make their recommendations to Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq.
The exercise is the latest in a series seeking to ready the division to take operational command. American officials said the Iraqi soldiers understand the planning process and how to transmit orders from higher commands to subordinate ones.
"The command post exercise finds out if they understand the steps and answers some key questions like, 'Do they give good guidance?' 'Are they using the guidance in their analysis?' and, 'Are they producing a good order that their subordinate units can understand?'" senior transition team leader Army Col. John Hort said. "What we're seeing right now is that it's pretty much yes to all of those."