BASRA, Iraq- "It is like a soccer practice before the big game," said Brig. Gen. Ricky Gibbs, United States Division-South deputy commanding general of maneuver, illustrating the importance of practice, repetition and teamwork to a room full of Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Soldiers. "You can't win a game with just one good player. You have to have many players that play together as a team. If you want that Iraqi team to win on the battlefield, you have to play together, practice together, so you can win together."

With minimal U.S. advice or assistance, the combined effort of the Iraqi Army, Department of Border Enforcement, and Iraqi Police led to the successful completion of the first regional joint strategic military exercise in Basra, Iraq.

Gibbs met with ISF leadership toward the end of the training at the 4th Region DBE Headquarters to discuss the map exercise, or MAPEX.

"We are all very proud of you as your partners and brothers in the security forces," Gibbs said. "It does take a joint combined force of all the security forces, not just the Army or Department of Border Enforcement. It is one team, one fight."

The purpose of the exercise was to evaluate and improve the participants' ability to react to situations that threatened their security.

"In the beginning, things started out slow," said Maj. Gen. Ismael Arar, Maysan provincial chief of police, "but after briefing the [Iraqi] soldiers on what they had to do, it started going smooth."

The army, police and DBE trained on smuggling interdiction strategies around the southern Maysan and northern Basra provinces, areas known for smuggling.

The MAPEX centered on how well the intelligence and information sections coordinated between one another. ISF units were evaluated on their ability to understand the situation, develop a plan of action, and execute the plan by communicating to subordinate elements.

The different sections participating in the exercise jotted notes on their successes and failures throughout the exercise, which provided feedback during the after action review.

"Repetition is the mother of all learning," Gibbs said. "So you practice together all the time and it becomes second nature."

The different branches of the armed forces work together and know what each other does, Gibbs said, attributing victory on the battlefield to joint cooperation.

The ISF is anxious to do more of these joint training exercises with its partners in the future, Arar said.

"[The exercise] met its goal," Arar said. "At the end of it, I would consider this training successful."