BAGHDAD- Soldiers from 1st 'Dragon' Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted joint driver and mechanic training at Combat Outpost Cashe South as part of an ongoing effort to strengthen Iraq's security capabilities.

Their National Police brigade counterparts recently purchased 75 new humvees in order to phase-out pick-up trucks previously used for operations throughout the brigade's sector of Baghdad. The new vehicles are now the primary service and patrol vehicle for the brigade, but operating and maintaining the machines could have been a major issue without adequate training.

The Dragons troopers held two training courses for master mechanics to share their skills with the NPs. The first course was a one-day drivers training course repeated over a four-day period and the second was a four-day course geared towards training maintenance techniques and procedures.

Soldiers designed the drivers training course to familiarize NPs with the capabilities and limitations of the humvees. NPs navigated the trucks through a slalom course fashioned out of orange pylons in a gravel parking lot as Dragon Soldiers served as a passenger and coach for each student; giving advice and encouragement to the Iraqi driver.

Police officers practiced mounting and dismounting the humvees in a simulated combat environment as they waited to navigate the driver's course. The groups dismounted and quickly set-up a defensive perimeter time-after-time in order to perfect tactics. In another exercise NPs simulated a vehicle rollover.

Master mechanic Staff Sgt. Robert Mills, spearheaded the mechanics course geared at keeping the new humvees mission capable. Officer Shakree, an NP with over 20 years experience in driving and maintaining diesel trucks and three years with humvees, served as an assistant instructor.

"He is very knowledgeable and makes my job a lot easier," explained Mills.

A short classroom section was presented at the start of the course, but within hours the officers found themselves working on vehicles in the motor pool. Humvees in need of maintenance served as a real-world mission as well as a joint training opportunity.

"I decided the best way for them to learn about the humvees was to dive right in with my guys and start fixing them," said Mills.

Spc. Olon Forrest, of Reno, Nev., was one of the first Dragon mechanics awarded the opportunity to work with the NPs.

"It was great working with them," said Forrest. "The Iraqis surprised me with their work ethic and mechanical knowledge."

Dragon mechanics were able to offer advice and tips, not learned through manuals, but through years of training and experience with the trucks.

"My men are experienced mechanics, but the humvee is new for us," explained Shakree, "This is a great way for us to familiarize ourselves with the humvee."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16