BAGHDAD - Soldiers from 501st Military Police Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Div., trained members of 6th Iraqi Army Div., on reacting to improvised explosive devices at Contingency Operating Location Constitution July 26.
This training, involving IED detection while on foot and while operating vehicles, was only the second day of a four-day event.
The Iraqi soldiers in attendance had training like this in the past and have been out on the roads for quite some time. This instruction was meant to reinforce the Iraqis' already solid knowledge on the topics and to gain insight from the MPs who travel the roads of Baghdad on a regular basis. But not all of the instruction was U.S. driven; the Iraqis shared their practical knowledge as well.
"We both share the same experiences," said Spc. Jeromey Abbott, a San Antonio native and gunner assigned to 501st MP Co. "There are a lot of IEDs out there so it helps to share stories and experiences. We learn a lot from each other."
The training exercise started off with a class displaying various simulated IEDs: showing what they look like, how they may be placed, and what they are capable of doing, both to vehicles and people. During the class, the Iraqi soldiers showed their interest by asking several questions and inspecting the fake IEDs as they were passed around.
"They come here enthused for their training," said Abbott. "Whatever we teach them, I hope it sticks as they head off into the field."
Several Iraqi soldiers agreed that they always expect something; they check everything, on the ground and above. Anything could be an IED.
After the IED identification class was complete, the Iraqi soldiers were split into two groups. One group was led to a road that had imitation IEDs hidden along the route and the other group loaded into vehicles and discussed actions upon contact while operating a vehicle in a convoy.
The primary instructor for the IED identification lane, Staff Sgt. Joshua Dowell, a Spring Hill, Fla., native, and squad leader assigned to 501st MP Co., discussed the intent of the training.
"We are trying to get them to look for devices or anything out of the ordinary; to get them into the mindset so they can operate," said Dowell. "Their goal is to find everything they are looking for and our goal is to help prevent them from getting hurt or killed in future missions."
He also said he felt working with the Iraqi Security Forces is helping create a better, safer Iraq, which helps U.S. Soldiers get back to their families safely.
During the convoy training, the Iraqis received instruction on what to do if they encounter an IED out on a mounted patrol.
"Much of their convoy training is about prevention," said 1st Lt. Charles Stevens, a New York City native and platoon leader assigned to 501st MP Co., describing the training objective. "The few hours a day we put into training the Iraqi soldiers equals numerous hours of continuous safety to the citizens of Iraq."
After a successful day of training, Stevens said he was impressed with the Iraqi soldiers and the progress they have made.
"It's nice to see how far they have come in the last couple of years," he said. "We are not here to train them in something completely new, but to help them go farther in their mission to secure Iraq."