By Sgt. Travis Zielinski, 1st ACB PAO, 1st Cav. Div.August 20, 2009
BAGHDAD, Iraq - American forces continue to support the Iraqi Army using the same training methods available to U.S. military forces.
Crawl, walk and run; starting off with the basic steps and procedures and building up to a professional standard.
The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, teamed up with 150th Armed Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, MND - B, to train Iraqi soldiers from the 17th Iraqi Army Division in procedures dealing with helicopters for air assaults.
For the 17th IA, "this is the very beginning of this aspect of training. They've done a lot of ground training, cordon searches, (traffic control points) and this is a new type of training that we are starting today," said Capt. Mark Houck from Mullens, W. Va., a troop commander in 150th ARS.
The Soldiers of 17th IA Division are more than welcoming the new and applicable training - wanting to skip the crawl and walk phases and go straight for the run.
"They have a lot of motivation, they are extremely excited to come down here and do all types of training - especially the air integration training with the helicopters," said Houck.
"I am very pleased to see the Air Cav. coming in and supporting our training, I really believe the Iraqis will take a lot from this training and put it to good use," he added.
The 1st ACB provided two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the IA, and the crew chiefs gave them a course of instruction on maneuvering around aircraft.
"We have to give them a detailed passenger brief and then we go through the static load training," said Spc. Kristopher Wheeler from Zachary, La., a Black Hawk crew chief in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB.
Static load training is the movement of personnel in and out of the aircraft with the power off. It is a safe environment for any Soldiers who do not normally work around helicopters.
"We have to give them a dry run, basically showing them how to get in and out of the helicopter safely without getting in the way of our weapons or any other obstacles," said Wheeler.
The training went on without a hitch regardless of the anticipated communication issues - which were nearly non-existent.
"The interpreter did a great job translating, we were expecting some problems with the language barrier, but the Iraqi Soldiers did exactly what we told them to do. They were pretty much professionals," said Wheeler.
This training was also vital to building stronger bonds between these said professionals and the U.S. Soldiers.
"A key focus is the relationships, not only our relationship with the [30th] HBCT, but with the relationships we are building with the Iraqis," said Maj. Jim Tenpenny from Platte City, Mo., the operations officer in charge for 3-227th, 1st ACB. "That is really a key message that we are trying to send; the trust and confidence in each other."
Although the training exercise builds confidence and bonds between the two forces, the ultimate goal is yet to come.
"We want to incorporate the Iraqi Army with the Iraqi Air force to conduct their own air assaults; that is the end state of this training," said Tenpenny.