CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 27, 2006) - New basic training graduates with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) trained with the assistance of Military Transition Teams from the 1st Infantry Division here Dec.19 on how to conduct cordon and searches.
The training consisted of the IA troops performing practice raids in two building "mock-ups."
According to Capt. Eric James, operations officer and advisor for the 329th MiTT, the training lasts three to four weeks and readies the Iraqi troops before they encounter the challenges of working in actual urban environments and checkpoints.
"We're taking new Iraqi soldiers before they get assigned to a company and giving them additional training," said James. "What we're doing is getting together with our Iraqi Army brothers and giving them this training prior to their going out into their areas of operations."
In addition, the training, which has been referred to as 'train the trainer' style instruction, allows the MiTT team's subject matter experts to assist Iraqi noncommissioned officers and warrant officers to give blocks of instruction as junior enlisted Iraqis are training simultaneously.
"We're trying to push them forward, essentially putting them in the lead when it comes to planning, resourcing and execution for missions and training," James said.
Prior to coming to Iraq, Staff Sgt. Michael Lewis, a combat medical advisor and trainer for the 329th MiTT, trained in Fort Riley, Kan. to learn how to instruct Soldiers in infantry-style tactics. Lewis is now training Iraqi soldiers alongside his Iraqi noncommissioned officer counterparts.
"Working here, we're getting to see the infantry side, and it's an important role, but it's just one part of all the training to help them build a company," he said.
Lewis, a medic, is also helping the Iraqis assemble a medical aid station and is impressed with the Iraqi soldiers' progress.
"Sometimes we've had to catch up with them," said Lewis. "The better they do their training, the better they can take over their own security. We show them what to look for during raids and at checkpoints so when they actually get out there they won't overlook anything."
IA soldiers said they all have their own reasons why they train to defend their country.
"I have a lot of good feelings about serving my country on the ground I've lived on all my life to help the Iraqi people," said Pvt. Abdul Razaq Shakir, who serves in the 3rd Bn., 2nd Bde., 9th IA Div. (Mech.). "We will risk our lives to help our country and to fight against the insurgents and anyone else who tries to bring our country down."
"We pray to God to make peace on this country to make things normal again," said Pvt. Al Hamad Vadir, also with the 3rd Bn., 2nd Bde., 9th IA Div. (Mech.).
"I hope every Iraqi citizen feels the same way I feel," said Shakir. "I am really proud to wear the Iraqi Army uniform."
Having worked several months with the Iraqis, James said he is confident in the abilities of the Iraqi troops and in their training.
"Anytime we've done big, important coalition operations, the Iraqi troops have always accomplished their missions," said James. "We roll out with Iraqis many times a week to do patrols or check on troops in the area of operations, and we feel as comfortable with them as we would rolling out with our own Soldiers."