CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - With weapons raised at the door and eyes scanning the surrounding area for threats, Iraqi army soldiers maneuvered toward an "enemy" building at the Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center.

IA soldiers of 3rd Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division cordoned the area and stormed through the neighboring buildings during the urban operations exercise, May 12.

While IA soldiers fired blank ammunition against opposing forces, U.S. soldiers from the "Head Hunter" 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division watched intently, taking note of the Iraqi soldier's progress.

"This training is good for us, because it allows us to ready ourselves for future security operations," said 1st Lt. Gamal Hussein, commander of 3rd Company, 2nd Bn. "The American officers and [non-commissioned officers] work hard to make sure we benefit from the training."

Hussein commanded half of his soldiers to surround the target in a security cordon, swiftly leading the remaining squads through an attack on the suspected strongholds.

After 3rd Company completed the mission and escorted enemy suspects into custody, Head Hunter soldiers conducted a mission critique highlighting tactics to sustain and improve for the next practice run.

"It's important for them to know how to safely move into a building or room and detain an enemy with minimal casualties," said Maj. Jason Carter, an instructor assigned to Head Hunter Squadron.

U.S. soldiers at GWTC work to modernize the Iraqi battalion as part of Tadreeb al Shamil, an Iraqi military training program to provide individual and collective infantry training for Iraq's ground forces.

Starting at the individual, squad and platoon levels, the IA soldiers build on their tactical knowledge and skills, progressing to company and battalion level exercises during the 25-day training cycles of Tadreeb al Shamil, Arabic for all inclusive training.

Since GWTC opened for training in January, 1st Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt. troopers led five IA battalions through the training center in support of Operation New Dawn.

"These guys have been great," said Carter, a native of Panama City, Fla. "They are the most disciplined and organized unit I've seen at this training center."

After the completion of the three-day urban operations platoon training, IA soldiers are slated to begin training and maneuvering on company-level urban operations at the training center.

"The IA soldiers are getting better with each training day," said Spc. Tim Caudle, a Head Hunter combat medic from Portland, Ore. "These are challenging exercises out here, but they are determined to be successful and complete the mission."

Page last updated Tue March 19th, 2013 at 23:17