By 2nd Lt. Justin Bishop, 5-82 FA Regt., 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.December 10, 2008
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - The Iraqi Army's newest brigade completed its latest training rotation at the 10th IA Division's headquarters at Camp Dhi Qar Nov. 26.
The graduation marked a key event in the 41st IA Brigade's short history. For the first time, Iraqi trainers taught all the classes. Soldiers with the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division transitioned from being the primary instructors to a supervisory role.
"You could noticeably see the new generation of Iraqi Soldiers eager to take charge and serve their country," said Sgt. Howard Acoff, a native of Birmingham, Ala., and an Iraqi trainee platoon sergeant. "Every day the trainees were ready and motivated, which made my job easy."
In addition to conducting vigorous combat-oriented physical training, Acoff led a daily block of instruction on U.S. Army Combatives, which the Iraqi trainees seemed to enjoy most.
The curriculum consisted of basic rifle marksmanship, vehicle maintenance, physical training as well as instruction on the duties and responsibilities of commissioned and noncommissioned officers.
"This was especially rewarding for us because it is rare to have the opportunity to train the same Iraqi unit that we will be training with in the near future," said 1st Lt. Dave Collins, of Vero Beach, Calif., the officer-in-charge of the training at Camp Dhi Qar.
By the end of each eight-day training cycle, the commissioned and noncommissioned officers were visibly taking ownership of their Soldiers, taking additional time during off-hours to drill the Soldiers on the tasks learned earlier that day.
The final day of training consisted of a soccer match between IA platoons and an obstacle course competition. The Iraqi troops' spirits were high during the competition; trainees loudly cheering on their platoon-mates and cadre. The winner of the obstacle course race was hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates as he crossed the finish line.
Outstanding performers were acknowledged during each graduation, and the top Iraqi trainees of the multiple classes were recognized in the final ceremony.
Capt. David Kitzman, the commander of Battery A, 5th Bn., 82nd FA Regt., commended the class on its progress and motivation throughout the training. Upon receiving a certificate and patch of completion, the newly trained Iraqi troops marched back to their temporary quarters with a confident swagger, eager to share this knowledge with the rest of their unit.