BAGHDAD-Limestone, clay, sand and gravel. These may not seem like riveting discussion topics to some. For Iraqi engineers at Muthana Airfield, in central Baghdad, the components of concrete are their keys to the future of their country.

Sgt. James Jones, a concrete squad leader, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade, and his squad spent the morning, May 15, training 6th Iraqi Army Engineers on how to conduct concrete missions and use the XM5 2600 concrete module, a mobile concrete factory. The training will give the IA engineers the necessary skills to conduct concrete construction missions and make road repairs.

"The Iraqi Army Soldiers seemed eager to learn, despite the language barrier," stated Sgt. Jones. "By the end of the morning I felt confident that they had all mastered the basics. They learned quickly."

The Iraqi Soldiers were quick to step up when the opportunity arose to get hands-on experience. They took turns operating the controls, getting on top of the concrete module to push the sand and gravel, and smoothing out the concrete in the holes.

"The Iraqis were really motivated to learn how we do things," stated Pvt. Ryan Doak, a concrete and asphalt specialist, 46th ECB (H), from Eugene, Ore. "After the first couple holes they were pretty much running the show."

Once the initial training was completed, the equipment platoon of Headquarters and Support Company, 46th ECB (H), worked alongside the Iraqi Army Engineers to set twenty-four bases for solar light poles on the road outside the gate to the airfield. They worked in the blazing heat, and managed to finish them all in one day.

After completing the training and solar light mission, the Iraqi Soldiers invited the U.S. engineers to lunch, to enjoy fellowship with their new comrades. The Iraqi engineers prepared a curry chicken and rice dish that was a new experience for many of the American Soldiers.

"It was nice to experience the local culture," stated Pvt. Doak. "I was impressed by their hospitality."

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