Brits Team with Yanks to Train Iraqi Army
August 2, 2007
PATROL BASE LIONS' DEN, Iraq (Army News Service, Aug. 2, 2007) - One of the United States' long-standing allies is helping build the Iraqi Army, sometimes from the ground up.
Here there are four British Soldiers serving with troops of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., at any given time.
They aid the "Golden Dragons" of 2nd Bn., 14 Inf. Regt. military transition team.
Capt. James Morris is a Royal Marine who came to work with MiTT as part of an officer exchange with U.S. troops.
Sgt. Paul Watson serves as a member of the Royal Guards, the well-known guards around Buckingham Palace who wear tall bearskin hats and are teased by tourists trying to get them to break their straight faces.
They and two others deployed in April, training in Kuwait and Iraq, before arriving at Lions' Den in May to work with the infantry battalion. They work closely with U.S. Soldiers Capt. Dennis Grinde and Sgt. 1st Class Scott Madden, the MiTT commander and noncommissioned officer in charge, respectively.
"There's really not much difference between the U.S. and British Armies," said Capt. Morris, who served with the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan in 2006. "Your armored Humvees are much better. But patrol tactics are not much different. You can integrate British and U.S. troops with no problem. The tactics remain pretty much the same."
"I call it, 'same stuff, different Army,'" Sgt. Watson said agreeing with Capt. Morris. "Soldiers are Soldiers at the end of the day, wherever you go."
"It's really interesting, "Capt. Grinde said. "We're really all one team. Like Winston Churchill said, 'fighting a war with an alliance is hard, but it's impossible without one.'"
MiTT has been working on training many Iraqi Soldiers, most of whom they had to re-train from the ground up because the troops had not internalized much of their previous training.
On a recent mission, much of the Iraqi company was 35 minutes late to begin the patrol.
"One of the platoon leaders, Omar, always has his guys there on time and squared away," said Capt. Morris. "We're not trying to get them up to Western standards. We're trying to get them to Iraqi standards, so that the British and American Soldiers can go home and they can have a functional Army of their own. We're not here to change their culture; we're here to train them.
"In their culture, it's very 'insh'allah' - God willing - being on time isn't a big deal," he added.
"In the last four weeks, they've started really thinking," Sgt. Watson said. "They're asking for vehicle support, but they're doing their own techniques and we're falling back a little bit."
"They need confidence," Capt. Morris said. "We're trying to give them that, and then start weaning them off our support. We're stepping back and doing over-watch while they do more of the missions now."
After the Iraqis train at Lions' Den, they will go south to Tallil to work with an Australian unit, which helps get them to a higher level of skill, Capt. Morris said.
Making classes entertaining is also important, said Watson.
"The level of education and literacy they have means that practical, hands-on training works better," he explained. "And when we make it a little entertaining, it works much better."
(Spc. Chris McCann serves with 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. Public Affairs.)