BASRA, Iraq - In front of an anxious audience, Iraqi Army officers gathered around a sand table to receive their orders for Operation Torrential Flood. Shortly after, the officers assembled in their areas, waiting for the signal to begin the assault.

At 9:45 a.m., the first artillery round made its way to the objective, signaling the start of the exercise. Within a few seconds, two more rounds hit the impact area.

Approximately 400 Iraqi soldiers with the 52nd Brigade, 14th Iraqi Army Division participated in a live fire exercise at Tea Leaf Island in Basra Oct. 25, in what some commanders say was the first complex combined arms exercise of its kind since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime.

The exercise showed the strong progress Iraqi Security Forces have made in the last several years, said Brig. Gen. Ricky Gibbs, United States Division-South deputy commanding general for maneuver.

"They have demonstrated in this exercise the ability to conduct complex combined arms live fire exercises," Gibbs said.

In the scenario, about 40 heavily-armed personnel on Al-Mousahab Island are trying to disrupt the stability of the region by attacking security force bases. By eliminating their primary target, the Basra International Airport, the insurgents would force international companies to leave the country.

The plan was to overwhelm the enemy by using different assets, said an IA captain who wished to remain anonymous.

"The enemy is weak because they do not have enough support," the captain said. "These practices will increase our experiences and capabilities."

The IA simultaneously stormed the objective by air, land and sea. More than a dozen IA boats full of soldiers flanked the threat from both sides of the Tigris River. Artillerymen continued to fire on the target as the boats moved in. Two Iraqi helicopters hovered near the objective, dropping infantrymen within firing distance of the enemy. Reinforcements arrived within minutes of the initial drop.

The intent of the exercise was to increase the 14th IA Division's capability to conduct full spectrum of operations when called upon and to show the Iraqi people the ISF is able to take over when U.S. forces leave, said an IA general.

"The Iraqi Police and ISF are capable of taking over when United States forces leave the country at the end of 2011," Staff Lt. Gen. Husain Douhi said.

Although USD-S Soldiers did not participate in the actual event, they did play a role in the planning of the exercise.

"We were able to advise them on how to set up a scenario to bring in as many of the operating systems as they have in their army," Gibbs said.

USD-S also showed the IA where to place their weapons to ensure the safety of their soldiers and the audience, Gibbs said. U.S. forces provided training on the specialized weapons used for the exercise.

Maintaining stability in the Basra region is critical in securing the stability of Iraq said the 14th IA Division commander.

"I believe Basra is the key to securing all of Iraq," said Staff Maj. Gen. Aziz. "It has the means, the resources in all of Iraq."