FORWARD OPERATING BASE HUNTER, Iraq (Army News Service, March 9, 2009) - Another chapter on operations in southern Iraq was written as Iraqi Soldiers honed their combat edge with the "Black Dragons" of 1st Cavalry Division during a three-day training mission in the Maysan Province.

The 3rd Battalion, 41st Iraqi Army Brigade "Commandos" learned various skills required to become an independent security force from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav.

The first day of joint training consisted of classes on weapons safety, vehicle maintenance and proper room-clearing procedures. The day concluded with the Iraqi Soldiers participating in a practical exercise where they were tasked to travel to a remote location and execute a room-clearing operation.

"I was surprised how well the Iraqi Army took to our classes," said Staff Sgt. Jason Marquez, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment Soldier. "They were always motivated and eager to learn."

The following day, the Iraqi Soldiers practiced the use of various formations and tactics while crossing different types of terrain. The key emphasis was the importance of proper planning before conducting missions, and the ability to adjust formations and method-of-travel based on the area and weather conditions.

"It is one thing to know various tactics. However, the challenge is choosing the proper tactic to use in a given situation," said a platoon leader of the Iraqi Commando element. "This is why planning and rehearsals are important in all missions."

The final day of training focused on first aid and countering improvised explosive devices. During the first aid training, the 41st IA commandos learned how to properly evaluate an injured Soldier, as well as different ways to treat wounds. The Iraqi troops trained on the use of the High Risk Warrant Casualty Kits, which provide them with the ability to more rapidly extract injured Soldiers and initiate immediate care.

As the U.S. Army transitions into more of an advisory capacity, this training brings the IA closer to the goal of an independently secure Iraq.

"The Iraqi Commando element is very motivated and as committed to seeing the end of terrorism as we are," said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Evans, a Black Dragon Soldier from Detroit. "These men are hard-working people who are ready to meet any challenges head on."

(1st Lt. Chang J. Ahn serves with the 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.)