A force growing stronger
May 18, 2011
AN NUMANIYAH TRAINING BASE, Iraq - Members of the 3rd Battalion, 32nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division completed three weeks of training on southern Iraq's An Numaniyah Training Base Apr. 27.
The 3rd Battalion is the second Iraqi unit to complete training as a part of "Eagles Rising," a comprehensive training program developed by the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to enhance the combat capabilities of the Iraqi Soldiers.
Since Eagles Rising began in March, members of the 3rd ACR have worked closely with both the Iraqi training cadre and the Iraqi Soldiers to ensure they are prepared, not only to conduct their security mission, but also to maintain current internal training needs.
"The original focus was simply to develop the Iraqi Army's attack and defend operations," said Lt. Col. Terry Hodgson, the Iraqi Security Forces cell chief with the 3rd ACR Stability and Transition Team, and a native of Orangeburg, S.C. "For several years their focus has been on fixed site security. They haven't spent much time on traditional tactics."
During two training rotations the Iraqi cadre have worked with platoon and company level Soldiers on a wide variety of skill sets. The culmination of the most recent class was a large exercise that would test the Iraqi Soldiers on much of what they had learned.
A force on force battle between Iraqis and 3rd ACR Soldiers lasted nearly two hours. The Iraqi Soldiers defended their positions from the enemy Soldiers while artillery simulators, smoke grenades and star cluster flares provided extra effects. The Iraqi Soldiers prevailed, with only 13 casualties when the dust settled.
The cadre also focused on training the Iraqi Soldiers on basic force protection exercises that will increase their resiliency in their daily operations.
"During the second iteration, assistance on the Iraqi Army's internal security was requested [by IA leadership]," said Hodgson. "Iraqi Soldiers face many dangers every day during their operations."
As the phases continue Iraqi cadre plan to add force protection training to the regular attack and defend exercises they are conducting now.
"It has been a long time since my men have trained on Soldier tasks," said Staff Brig. Gen. Majid Fadil Al Zohairi, commander of the 3rd Battalion. "We are now sharper on using terrain and our weapon systems. We are definitely ready to take our positions and serve our country."
Zohairi believes with each new class, his men continue to take hold of the training and are leading from within their own ranks.
"I think the center will now be better prepared to execute full spectrum operations training," said Hodgson. "We have also instilled in the junior officers that some great training can be conducted right at their home stations without massive resourcing. That's an important idea that I hope the Soldiers and leaders will take away from this training."