MATAR AL-SADDIQ, TUZ, Iraq - With the help of Coalition Forces, Iraqi soldiers stationed in Tuz are ramping up training efforts to ensure they are fully prepared for the 2011 withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
Military Police from the Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division have been working rigorously with the Iraqi Army to ensure their soldiers have the most cutting-edge training available.
At Matar al-Saddiq, a base near Tuz, American and Iraqi soldiers live side-by-side, which makes working together much easier. The two groups partner as often as possible, conducting events ranging from shooting competitions to 'school drops,' during which the IA pass out school supplies to needy areas.
The MPs are building a half-walled shoot house which will be used for joint Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training. Highly trained in conducting SWAT-type raids, arrests and questioning procedures, the MPs will finish teaching Iraqi soldiers everything they know as soon as the house is complete.
"This will be a little house where the IA can go in and practice clearing rooms. We're going to share it with them for joint training," said Staff Sgt. Jason Nash of Appomattox, Virginia. Nash's building skills, which he's been refining for the better part of two decades, are being put to the test as he erects the nearly life-sized structure.
"The facilities they have now aren't complex enough to create an effective training environment," said Sgt. Miles Andrews, who is also working on the project. "This will provide complex rooms, but it's got cut-away walls that will allow trainers to supervise without having to get in the way and follow the soldiers around the house."
IA soldiers are currently training amid heaps of sand bags and imaginary walls; the new facility, when complete, will resemble the floor plan of a typical Iraqi home. Battle-focused training will help improve operations in the future as the IA will be able to adopt a "train as you fight" mentality.
"This is a great opportunity for us and the IA," said Sgt. Kyle Booker. "It fits right in with our battalion's mission here. If we can help facilitate training for the IA soldiers so they can provide better security for the people of Iraq, I'm all for it."
Andrews agreed wholeheartedly. "This provides us with an opportunity to further work and train with our brothers by using this facility," he said.
The MPs are having a great time building the structure and looking forward to using it, but one of the Soldiers is a little concerned with the final outcome.
"If my wife finds out I can build like this, she's going to have me building a playroom for our son as soon as I get back," said Sgt. Joshua Streblow of Port Huron, Michigan.
Joking aside, Streblow and his Soldiers are excited to finally use the facility. "I cut the studs and the walls with Sgt. Andrews, and it's going really quickly because we've got great teamwork - but I can't wait to get in there and train with the IA soldiers," said Streblow.