Warrior Academy helps Iraqis improve battle skills
September 21, 2009
BAGHDAD -- Soldiers of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are the instructors of the Warrior Academy at Joint Security Station Ur - a three-day academy designed to train Iraqis in everything from rifle marksmanship to first aid.
The academy's first day focus is BRM - the acronym well-known to all American Soldiers as basic rifle marksmanship. According to Staff Sgt. Benito Santos, an infantry platoon sergeant, the academy's lead instructor, BRM is often neglected among Iraqi Soldiers because of scarce ammunition. But at Warrior Academy, the Iraqis fired over 800 rounds at JSS Ur's firing range.
"The course is three days so we compress everything into those three days," said Santos.
Santos also points out that the Iraqi Soldiers do not properly clean their weapons and sometimes use techniques that are harmful to the weapon.
"They use diesel fuel to clean their weapons, it makes the bolt sticky and makes dust stick to it and it becomes like sludge," said Santos, who is assigned to A Co. "We looked through the barrels of these weapons and you couldn't see through them."
To test the theory that a clean weapon is a functional weapon, Santos said the Iraqis were allowed to fire their weapons before cleaning them. The result was a malfunction rate of about 80 percent, proving the academy's technologies on weapons' maintenance works.
Another day of class focuses on squad movement tactics and recognizing improvised explosive devices.
"This class helps them understand why it's important to be in certain formations when in the city," said Santos. "They kind of understand that now."
The anti-IED portion of the class involves slideshows and parts of actual IEDs found by American Soldiers. Sharing the knowledge helps the Iraqis become more able to pick out a deadly IED, added Santos.
On the final day of instruction, the Iraqis lead a patrol in the surrounding Sadr City area to show their Warrior Academy instructors what they've learned. Then a graduation ceremony is held in which the Iraqi soldiers are given certificates by an Iraqi Army officer.
Capt. John Ulsamer, commander of A Co., 2nd Bn., 5th Cav. Regt., 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div., said the academy is already showing it worth in the IA.
"We're seeing a lot of success from it," said Ulsamer, an infantry officer from Staten Island, N.Y. "The Iraqi Army has detained eight times more people this month than last month."
Ulsamer said his goal is for the Iraqis to eventually take the reins of the Warrior Academy.
"We're trying to get the Iraqis to train and we just provide the facility," Ulsamer said. "We've got a range and classrooms and we can have it so Iraqis could conduct their own training."
As American Soldiers continue to let the Iraqis take the lead in securing their country, the knowledge gained at the Warrior Academy is sure to help the Iraqis become more confident and competent.