By Spc. Samuel Soza, TF Danger Public AffairsJune 15, 2010
JSS SA'AD, Iraq - Soldiers with Military Transition Team 5214 taught Iraqi soldiers from the 14th Iraqi Army's 52nd Brigade, 14th Division, basic range operations and assisted in making adjustments to the Iraqi soldiers' M-16 and M-4 rifles at a range here June 5, 2010.
"14th Division [Stabilizing Transition Team] tasked all the brigade MiTTs in the 14th Division IA to do a train-the-trainer concept with the M-16s," said Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Callahan. "Roughly, 6,000 [weapons] were issued to the 14th Division IA. The rest of the brigades have completed their train-the-trainer, and we are the last ones to go through it."
The MiTT Soldiers ran the range according to U.S. Army procedures and coached the first of the firers on zeroing their weapons - a process that increases a firer's accuracy by making adjustments to each individual weapon.
Under the scorching sun, the U.S. safety personnel held up their white paddles, indicating "safe", to Capt. William Corbin, MiTT 5214 training advisor, who gave the order to fire to several of the Iraqi leaders who comprised the first firing order.
"What we have out here is at least one [noncommissioned officer] from each platoon from the 52nd Brigade and several officers from each battalion," said Corbin, native of Augusta, Ga. "We are trying to train their senior leaders on how to safely run a range and how to zero and fire the M-16."
After obtaining a successful zero, the Iraqi leaders stayed on the firing line and coached successive firing orders. About 60 Iraqi soldiers went through the range and fired 3,000 rounds of ammunition provided by the MiTT.
"We're teaching them basic range safety - keep the weapon on safe, weapon up and down range, don't touch your weapon when someone else is downrange, just the basic things U.S. Soldiers learn in basic training," said Corbin, "We are trying to instill [these skills] in them to keep them safe out here and on missions."
The training day also allowed the Iraqi leaders to study the range operation from within, an important part of the train-the-trainer method.
"Train-the-trainer is how the U.S. Army works," said Callahan, a native of Wichita, Kan. "We always do train-the-trainer concept. As soon as one Soldier or officer or NCO is able to grasp a concept, we allow them to go ahead and train it."
The method aims to making training sustainable and is important to the way U.S. forces work with the Iraqi Security Forces; the approach has been used by the MiTT in the past.
"Sgt. 1st Class [Rich] Simmons, our medic, has done that with a [combat life saver] program out at Camp Sa'ad.," said Callahan, "What we're doing out here is exactly the 'assisting' part of the advise-and-assist [mission] - we're assisting them to use the M-16s so they can turn around and use that with the rest of the brigades."
Callahan estimates about 80,000 rounds will be used when shooters from the rest of the 52nd Bde. zero and qualify in mid-June. The MiTT plans to be on-hand then and will continue to advise the Iraqi soldiers for a little longer.
"We are in the midst of going away," said Corbin, "We are one of the last MiTT classes in Iraq. The STTs [working in two-man teams] are taking over, and they just don't have the personnel to come out here and train the Iraqis themselves. We have to get them to a point where they can sustain themselves and train themselves."
Commitment to this mission drove the MiTT to continue despite an improvised explosive device attack the morning of the range and an approximate high of 118 degrees in the afternoon.
"We told the Iraqis we were going to be out here today," said Corbin. "We're not going to let that stop us from coming out and helping them, and they seemed grateful that we were still here."