On the Ground: U.S. Training Efforts Build Self-sufficiency in Iraq
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2009 U.S. forces in Iraq are equipping Iraqis with the skills they need to assume a greater role in their nation’s security.
A bonfire lights the sky as noncommissioned officers from the 172nd Infantry Brigade welcome 22 graduates of the Blackhawk Warrior Leader Course into the leadership ranks at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, March 7, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Bethany L. Little
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
An integral part of that process is training, and U.S. forces are arming themselves with knowledge so they, in turn, can help outfit Iraqis with the tools required to move toward self-sufficiency.
Earlier this month, U.S. soldiers of the 172nd Infantry Brigade focused on training during the unit’s first Blackhawk Warrior Leader Course for junior noncommissioned officers at Forward Operating Base Kalsu.
The course, held March 2 to 6, comprised more than 20 topics, including civil capacity, force protection and Iraqi security professionalization.
“We are training team leaders to be subject-matter experts at the squad level,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Steven Spillman, course commandant and operations sergeant major for 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment. “We want to reinforce their understanding of basic warrior tasks and skills, such as casualty-evacuation procedures, lifesaving, load plans, vehicle-recovery drills, asset integration, and improvised explosive device tactics, techniques and procedures.”
Students also learned Iraqi rank structure and Iraqi military and police culture to further their understanding of how Iraqi security forces operate.
“We wanted the students to learn more about the Iraqi way of doing things so they could better train them,” Army Command Sgt. Maj. Steven W. McClaflin of the 172nd Brigade said. “Iraqi warrants and detainee operations classes were taught as well, so that our soldiers would be knowledgeable of the system we now work under.”
As U.S. soldiers trained to boost their knowledge of Iraqi security forces, Iraqi National Police conducted some training of their own.
The 2nd National Police Battalion, Basra Brigade, improved their police skills during a U.S.-aided training course March 11 at their Rumaylah headquarters. The course included physical conditioning, detainee search and evidence collection.
The battalion’s mission is to protect the Iraqi oil infrastructure and secure the highways in its sector, which spreads as far north as the Euphrates River to southwest of the city of Zubayr.
The police have stopped vehicles from stealing oil from the Iraqi national oil company and are preventing oil pipeline sabotage, said Iraqi Col. Abdu Al Kareem, commanding officer of the battalion. The police also ensure the safety of people traveling through checkpoints.
Their missions range from “everyday operations to mission-specific operations as well as performing civil-military operations," said Army Capt. Michael Langan, the primary U.S. National Police Transition Team instructor for the detainee search class. "Once they are done here, they will send them out to their checkpoints and then apply what they have learned."
Elsewhere, more than 600 Iraqi soldiers wrapped up a month of warfighter training March 12 at the K1 Regional Training Center in Kirkuk. The soldiers received training in small and intermediate weapons, improvised explosive device awareness and prevention, and checkpoint procedures, said Iraqi army Staff Lt. Gen. Husayn Jasim Dohi, deputy chief of staff for training.
The battalion also practiced patrolling in a Military Operations on Urban Terrain site, a simulated village with homes and a hospital.
The warfighter training course is part of a process to bring a single standard of professionalism to the Iraqi army, said Army Brig. Gen. Steven Salazar, commander for Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq’s Joint Headquarters Army Advisory Training Team.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq, Multinational Corps Iraq and Multinational Division Center news releases. Army Capt. Jeffrey Johnson of the Multinational Division Southeast public affairs office, Army 1st Lt. Lonnie M. Colbert of the 172nd Infantry Brigade, and Van N. Williams of the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq public affairs office contributed to this article.)