By Pfc. Justin Naylor, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsSeptember 28, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq- "Erjaa'a! Erjaa'a!" shouted Iraqi Army soldiers as they displayed their batons hard from right to left. "Get back! get back!" they were saying in Arabic as they had been trained to do by their U.S. military police counterparts.
These baton-wielding IA are military police and were among the first in the 12th IA Division to be trained with the riot baton and riot shield during crowd control training provided by MPs from 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, at K-1 Military Base, Kirkuk, Iraq, Sept. 10.
The training began with a brief demonstration by the 2nd STB MPs on how to effectively use a baton. Moving as a single element, the Soldiers performed blocks and attacks with their batons for the gathered IA MP students.
Each of the MPs then took a group of three IAs outside, giving them their batons and taking on the role of instructor, carefully supervising and explaining correct techniques.
"This is a great thing," said 1st Lt. Muhammed Ahmed, one of the officers in charge of the IA at the training. "This gives my soldiers a chance to work with the U.S. [MPs] to make the IA even stronger."
After mastering basic baton skills, they began to practice working as a single unit; much like a riot police officer would.
"It's very important to know these things," said Pvt. Japarabd Al Har, one of the IA at the training. "MPs are supposed to know how to control a riot."
They practiced stacking up as a group and wielding their batons in way so as not to hit the soldiers next to them. This team building work helped them transition easily into the next phase of training equipment riot shields.
Dressed in riot gear, MPs showed the IA ways to divert and stop a crowd using their shields.
This ended with a demonstration of how to use the technique against resistance, with IAs dashing at the wall of shields, trying, ineffectively, to break through them.
The IA were then given a chance to use the shields, and try their luck at holding off the MPs by using the techniques they had just learned.
"My favorite part of the training was using the shields," said Japarabd with a grin.
This training was a first for many of the IA soldiers.
"Everything I learned today was new," said Japarabd. "I've never received any of this training before."
But for the MPs teaching the class, this training was very familiar.
"This is the exact same type of training that MPs do," said Sgt. Joseph Irwin, a Vine Grove, Ky., native a MP squad leader with 2nd STB.
According to Irwin, MPs are required to go through riot training every year as part of their annual tasks and drills.
"The importance of an MP knowing how to control a riot...on a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 10," said Irwin. "It's one of our jobs; any civil disturbances that happen or anything like that , we are going to be the first ones to get called and try and disperse it."
For the IA, though, this riot control training is about more than just preventing riots on base, it is about protecting their fellow countrymen.
"The situation in Kirkuk fits with this type of training," said Muhammed. "There are elections coming up soon, and I want my soldiers to be ready to control a riot in case anything goes wrong."
In the past, the IA has used weapons as a means of riot control, according to Irwin.
"You take the guns out of the equation; you start using shields and riot batons as opposed to weapons," explained Irwin. "You stop the deaths, and you show you're trying to improve the country by taking on a more peaceful stance."
"They were extremely receptive," explained Irwin. "They actually picked up on it really quick. I'm pretty confident leaving here knowing that they were trained pretty well."