'Lightning' battalion Soldiers train Iraqi Army personal security detachment
January 17, 2011
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Army Soldiers conducting dismounted operations in the Rusafa area notice a cameraman recording their movement from an alleyway and notify their squad leader of the potential threat.
Simultaneously, the senior scout notices a roadside bomb 40 meters ahead. The scout immediately moves to cover as he alerts the other members of his patrol. The squad leader sends a fire team into the alleyway to detain the cameraman while he requests the support of the explosive ordnance disposal unit.
This is just one of many different training scenarios conducted by 3rd Platoon, Battery A, 1st 'Lightning' Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division-Center, during a tactics, techniques and procedures class taught to their Iraqi Army counterparts at Joint Security Station Old MoD in Baghdad.
The platoon's primary mission is serving as the personal security detachment for the Stability Transition Team at the Rusafa Area Command, safeguarding and transporting military leadership during battlefield circulation. However, they have taken on the additional task of developing the PSD for Iraqi Army elements they partner with.
The new Iraqi Soldiers arrived at JSS Old MoD immediately after their Basic Training Course, still discussing how well they had marched at their graduation the day prior.
Utilizing the crawl-walk-run style of training, in which students progressively build on what is learned before, each day began with an hour of physical training before moving into the classroom portion. Each class consisted of a two-hour lecture and instruction portion followed by hands-on and interactive drills.
Although physical training usually consisted of stretching, calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups and running, the last morning was dedicated to a combined soccer game between the U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers to boost morale.
As a capstone to each day of training, a combat simulation was set up, with 3rd Platoon Soldiers acting as the opposing force to the Iraqis. Focusing on different scenarios challenged the Iraqi Soldiers and their leadership to react under stress while building competence and strength.
The intent behind the simulations was to force the Iraqi PSD to react with the proper tactics and techniques while maintaining communication within their unit during confusing and difficult scenarios, said Sgt. 1st Class Ottis Crawford, with Battery A, 1st Bn., 7th Field Art. Regt.
These drills also gave the Iraqi leadership an opportunity to exercise effective command and control over their new Soldiers. In addition, the scenarios gave the Soldiers a valuable opportunity to train alongside their officers and noncommissioned officers, helping to build the relationship and trust between them.
Among the more noticeable characteristics of the training was the constant presence of at least one Iraqi officer overseeing the training and observing the strengths of the Iraqi forces, and being directly involved in the development of their unit.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from the most professional Army in the world," Khazal said. "We are lucky to have them here, so you need to ask the questions and soak up everything (the American leaders) and (their) Soldiers tell you."
The efforts of 3rd Platoon, Battery A, 1st Bn., 7th Field Art. Regt., coupled with the continued partnership efforts of remaining American forces deployed in support of Operation New Dawn, aim to allow the Iraqi Army to continue increasing its capabilities, ultimately securing a more stable and sovereign Iraq.