The 121st Brigade Support Battalion's partnership with the Iraqi Security Forces focuses not only on developing their ability to conduct combat operations, but also upon developing their administrative and logistics capabilities.

The "Iron Hammer" battalion's Logistics Training and Advising Team, Company E, is one such initiative for advising Iraqi Army units in Maysan Province.

Working with the 38th Iraqi Army Brigade since August, the LTAT provides guidance when needed as the Iraqis control their own logistics system.

"Though our system is ours alone it has been very helpful to have ongoing conversations about the issues we face with our American counterparts; it is good to get a different perspective and sometimes fresh ideas," said Maj. Abdul Karim, a supply officer for the 38th IA Bde.

In addition to advising on how to run an effective supply system, the LTAT has been able to provide practical hands-on training in other areas, including maintenance and reading classes.

Sgt. 1st Class Gustavo Contreras, LTAT noncommisioned officer in charge and wheeled vehicle mechanic, coordinated the maintenance classes with the 38th IA Bde. He said that he feels that being able to live side-by-side with their Iraqi counterparts is beneficial to the LTAT's mission.

"Advising is an ongoing process, for me living here at [Joint Security Station] Maysan and having daily face-to-face meetings with key leaders is crucial to our efforts., All interactions in the Islamic culture are based on trust, so living here gives us an edge which we wouldn't have if we only came down for visits," said Contreras, an El Paso, Texas native.

The LTAT has expanded efforts to improve literacy among the enlisted Iraqi soldiers so they can read technical manuals. The team implemented a literacy program to combat the 50% literacy rate.

"I've really enjoyed teaching this program because it gives the [jundee] hope, they come in and they work hard. This is because to them it's about securing their careers and self improvement," said Samir "Slim" Zarrah, a civilian interpreter currently assigned to Co. E and acting as the literacy program's main instructor.

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