By Sgt. Robert Jordan, MND-B PAOJuly 27, 2009
MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq -- Four Iraqis stand outside the door to a 10 square foot room, knowing there are two American Soldiers inside. On a silent signal they storm the room with AK-47 assault rifles at the ready. The first two scan the room and in less than a second, level rifles at the Americans.
The American Soldiers applaud, saying "much better" to the smiling Iraqi Army Soldiers.
With drills like these as their focus, Soldiers of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, located in Wilmington, N.C., trained Iraqi Army Soldiers of the 25th Brigade, 17th Iraqi Army Division, in marksmanship and room clearing at Joint Security Station Deason, south of Baghdad, June 22.
The Soldiers instruct local Iraqi soldiers, who will then train fellow Iraqis. "There is an old saying, 'more training, less blood,'" said Iraqi Army Lt. A-Hasan from Baghdad.
"They are eager to train and they are getting more relaxed," said Staff Sgt. Michael Wilson of Wilmington, N.C.
During marksmanship training, the Iraqi soldiers lie down behind a row of sandbags parallel to human shaped targets 50 yards away. First, the American Soldiers check the firing position of the Iraqis, correcting the placement of a foot for one, adjusting the sandbag of another.
An Iraqi training officer issues his soldiers ammo in long curved magazines. Eagerly the solders lock the magazine in the rifle and begin shooting.
"They are soldiers, they love to shoot," said Wilson.
After cease fire the all the soldiers move downrange. Graders circle the holes in the targets and offer suggestions on how to improve firing.
Some students' targets have three holes that could be covered with a quarter coin. Instructors congratulate the soldiers' accuracy shaking their hands as other Iraqi soldiers gather cheering.
"At first they were all over the target, now most are in the center," said Wilson.
Other Iraqi soldiers practice how to clear a room. A team of four soldiers line up outside the 'shoot house', a plywood house with no roof so observers can look at training without interfering.
The American Soldiers demonstrate as one man kicks in the door and the others stream in, each covering a section of room. The four Soldiers clear the room in a matter of seconds.
The Iraqi Soldiers run through the drill again and again, their own officers giving guidance. Quickly the soldiers' confidence and technique improves. "This training helps a lot in a real fight," said a-Hasan. "With American support our training gets better."
During breaks there is a jovial atmosphere.
One American Soldier shows photos of his family to several fellow Iraqi soldiers. Questions erupt; the Iraqis ask "how many kids," "how old" and smile as only fathers and husbands can.
One Iraqi challenges an American Soldier to arm wrestling Iraqi style. They face each other standing, grasping the other's hand and try to pull the other to the ground. The contest, a struggle for both, ends in a draw to the cheers of the other Soldiers.
Once the break is over training returns with seriousness, officers guide their men to the next training area, sergeants line up the men to clear the room again.
"We need to train, especially when there are civilians involved. Terrorists have no rules," said A-Hasan. "We are the protectors of Iraq."