"This is the only thing I was looking forward to," said Cpl. Sean Taylor, in between the series of explosions.

Taylor, Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was on day nine of the 15-day 1st Bn., 15th Inf. Regt.'s Team Leader Course, which began Feb. 1 at Forward Operating Base Echo.

He was completing four days of demolition training, along with fellow 1st Bn. Soldiers and two soldiers from the 8th Iraqi Army Division.

"When they get done with these classes, I guarantee most of them will say this is the most fun they've had in the course," said Staff Sgt. Robie Stricklin, an engineer from Company E, 1st Bn., 15th Inf. Regt.

Open to Soldiers new to the team leader position, the course allows Soldiers to test their skills in such areas as demolition, mechanical breach, shotgun breach, reflexive fire, technicalities of different weapon systems, communication and first aid. Students also learn the roles and responsibilities of several positions in the noncommissioned officer corps.

"[The training] gives team leaders a chance to reaffirm training, and new skills to improve the organization and accomplish the mission," said Staff Sgt. Conrad Slyder, Company B, 1st Bn., 15th Inf. Regt.

"This course is a compact version of everything we joined the Army to do," Taylor said.

The Team Leader Course is designed to expose new team leaders to variety of military occupational skills, including infantrymen, medics, mechanics, and military policemen. Many of the students agreed the demolitions were their favorite part.

"The other stuff we get to do every day," Taylor, an infantryman, said. "We don't get to do stuff like this every day."

Slyder agreed.

"The demolition is my favorite because we get to blow stuff up," he said. "I've never done that before."

Private Hassan Badder, one of two 8th Iraqi Army Division soldiers going through the course, found he was treated no differently than the American Soldiers he trained beside.

Badder said he thought the Team Leader Course was very exciting and, since he was one of the few from his unit to go through the course, felt confident in taking what he learned back to his fellow Iraqi Soldiers.

Command Sgt. Maj. Radhi, 8th Iraqi Army Division, sees the importance of noncommissioned officers, Iraqi and American alike, taking what they have learned to train their Soldiers. He explained in the old Iraqi Army, there was no such responsibility for the corps.

"One of our main focuses now is to educate the officers on the role of the NCO in the Army," he said. "We are trying to give more responsibility to our NCOs. We are trying to model them off the NCOs in the U.S. Army."