By Pfc. Jessica Hayes, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public AffairsSeptember 29, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - An Iraqi soldier exhales calmly, tightening the grip on his AK-47 assault rifle and slowly squeezes the trigger. He relaxes upon hearing the weapon's tell-tale metallic click and glances expectantly at the U.S. Soldier standing beside him.
The U.S. Soldier is from Bravo Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and he, along with others were instructing long range marksmanship training to Iraqi soldiers from the 15th Iraqi Army Brigade, near Kirkuk City, Iraq, Sept. 6.
The training began in the classroom for three days and covered topics such as breathing techniques, determining distance to targets, and factoring sunlight and wind into accurately hitting a target.
First Lt. Eric Dixon, a native of Anacoco, La., and a scout platoon leader in 4th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt., said the training reassures Iraqis that Iraqi Security Forces are professional and proficient in their marksmanship abilities.
"Once word gets out [to Iraqis] that there are soldiers who are training to shoot targets from 300 to 800 meters away, it builds the public's awareness of what they are capable of doing," Dixon said, explaining the benefit of the Iraqi soldiers training for the civilian population.
Sgt. Alan Frink, from Greenfield, Mass., and one of the training instructors, explained one of his goals is to give the 15th IA soldiers assurance in their own abilities.
"This is going to build their confidence, and that's the main thing, building these [soldiers'] confidence and making them successful in whatever they do," he said.
At least 24 IA soldiers participated in the training and learned fundamental basic marksmanship skills using the Dragunov sniper rifle and the AK-47, by splitting into groups and going through the steps needed before, during, and after firing their weapons.
Frink remarked that the more extensive training these Iraqi soldiers receive, the more efficient they will become.
"The more we train these soldiers, the more confident they'll be when protecting the residents in this area. This will help them strengthen their communities, and in turn, their country," he explained.