BAGHDAD - As Coalition forces drawdown in Iraq and reduce their combat role, the Iraqi Army has taken on more and more of the security responsibility in Iraq. This has allowed Coalition forces to focus more on advising, training and mentoring the IA.

Taking on their share of this task, Soldiers of Company D, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, organized a 12 day Iraqi Small Unit Leaders Course (ISULC) at the Iraqi Army compound in Mahmudiyah March 6-18 with IA troops of the 2nd Battalion, 25th Brigade, 17th IA Division.

Co. D, 1-63 CAB, which is part of the 2nd "Iron" Bde., 1st Armored Div., Multi-National Division-Baghdad, used the course as a way to provide enlisted Iraqi Army soldiers the opportunity to learn advanced leadership skills from U.S. Army non-commissioned officers which would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Much of the progress in Iraq over the past two years is due to the effectiveness of the Iraqi Army as it grew in numbers by some 150,000 and progressively expanded their operations across Iraq. The Iraqi Army now plans, leads and executes major security operations.

"It is good to work with Coalition forces and have U.S. Army NCOs teaching IA junior leaders," said 2nd Lt. Ehssan Alawoy Hamad, a liaison officer with the 2-25-17 IA Div., who was there to oversee the progress of the training. "The IA has made security a priority and soldiers were only doing missions, so training has been difficult with the IA rebuilding its unit forces."

During the 12-day junior leaders' course, instructors trained the IA junior leaders in basic rifleman marksmanship, land navigation, combat life saver techniques, squad movement and weapons maintenance. Physical fitness was also implemented into the course because of the physical demands of military operations.

"I feel better knowing the training we did with IA junior leaders and NCOs motivated them and the junior leaders wanted more responsibility and authority" said Sgt. 1st Class Donald West, of San Diego, Calif., the ISULC primary instructor.

"This is the first IA class trained by Co. D to receive this ISULC training," said Capt. Landgrave Smith, of Norman, Okla., commander, Co. D, 1-63 CAB. "After talking with the 2-25-17 IA Commander, Staff Col. Wassim Abid Razaq, the provincial elections were over and the timing was right to begin training the IA junior leaders with NCOs from Company D."

At the end of the course, Dergham Abidul Hussen, one of 23 Iraqi Army soldiers who participated in the training, was announced as the honor graduate. The cadre for the course said they hope IA soldiers like Hussen will be trainers who eventually train their soldiers on what they have learned from the Iron Brigade Soldiers.

"The objective of the ISULC is to have IA junior leaders provide training to the remaining soldiers in the 2-25-17 IA Div," said Smith.

The Iron Brigade will continue training the Iraqi Soldiers and assisting them in critical enabling capabilities such as logistics, intelligence and fire support. It is a sign of progress that the IA is becoming less and less dependent on Coalition forces, according to Smith.

Page last updated Fri March 20th, 2009 at 11:06