BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. Soldiers got down and dirty with their Iraqi partners from the when they introduced hand-to-hand combative training at Joint Security Station Istiqlal, in northeast Baghdad.

Soldiers from B Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and a platoon of Iraqi Federal Policemen assembled around a combatives pit, Oct. 14, as San Benito, Tex. native, 1st Lt. Juan "Mike" Olvera, drew on his past experience in a variety of martial arts, a two year professional boxing career, and the Army's combatives program to lead the instruction.

The intent of the training was not to turn the Iraqis into professional hand fighters; instead it focused on training the policemen to deal with situations where a weapon is not available or not necessary.

"You want to keep space between yourself and a potential opponent," Olvera told the class as he demonstrates how to approach a person displaying hostile intent.

After several weeks of proficiency training, this Iraqi platoon knows how to effectively use their weapons. Now they are learning techniques without weapons.

Olvera shows them how to gain and maintain the advantage, with policemen working in pairs; practicing techniques for pushing an opponent away when an assailant attempts to grab or strike them. As they push their opponents away, the policemen take additional steps backward which gives them time to raise a firearm.

"Most of these guys had never done anything like this before, but they were really motivated. They learned fast," Olvera said after the class.

Several Soldiers from B Troop assisted in the instruction, demonstrating and holding sparring pads to develop the Iraqis' punching techniques. Additional instruction focused on fending off knife attacks, taking an opponent down to the ground, and regaining control in the event that an opponent managed to take them down.

"This was by far the most fun we've had training with them," said Plant City, Fla. native Spc. David Croft.

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