US troops lend firepower to Iraqi Army
December 13, 2010
- US helicopters aid Iraqi training exercise
- US, Iraqi mortarmen work with helicopters to train
- Helicopter unit progresses Iraqi army's capabilities
MOSUL, Iraq -- U.S. Army scout helicopters participated in an exercise near Mosul, Iraq, Dec. 6, designed to train Iraqi ground troops on the basics of coordinating attacks from an aircraft.
The helicopters used rockets and machine guns to neutralize mock targets as Iraqi soldiers directed the air support. The pilots in turn guided the Iraqi troops as they engaged the same targets with mortars and other weapons.
The exercise follows a month of mortar training between U.S. and Iraqi ground troops here. Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division provided the training and also participated in the exercise.
The helicopters belong to the 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, a Kiowa Warrior helicopter squadron from Fort Riley, Kan.
The exercise focused on teaching the Iraqi forces the basics of what the Army calls air to ground integration, said Capt. Kurt Hunt, one of the pilots who flew in the exercise.
The Army's air to ground integration tactics revolve around the cooperation of ground and air forces. The training taught the Iraqis how to designate targets for the helicopters to engage.
Hunt and other pilots fired more than 30 rockets and 800 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun ammunition during the five-hour exercise, he said.
Hunt, who has now participated in three such exercises, noted improvement in the Iraqi troops.
"It was nice to hear a confident voice giving us exact details on a target," said Hunt.
"It's almost a sense of relief," he said. "It's nice knowing that we're leaving the country in capable hands."
The squadron is part of the Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, a unit that is spread across the country as the Army's only aviation brigade in Iraq. It has conducted several similar training events since deploying to Iraq this March.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Chase, the squadron's commander, said that the training mission has progressed well since the reduction of forces in Iraq this summer.
"They are doing unilateral operations by themselves everyday without us," he said. "At this point we're focused on maintaining a friendship."