By Staff Sgt. Tanya Thomas, 4th AAB, 3rd ID Public AffairsNovember 17, 2010
CAMP MEJID, Iraq - U.S. Soldiers are training alongside their Iraqi counterparts as part of Operation New Dawn's mission to advise and assist the Iraqi Security Forces. However, Soldiers with 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, took combined operations to new heights.
Twelve Soldiers with the 7th Iraqi Army Division participated in a combined air assault exercise Nov. 11 at Camp Mejid, Iraq. Instructors with the 2nd Iraqi Army Aviation Squadron were on hand to teach a class on the Iraqi UH-1 Huey helicopter, and Soldiers with the General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, attached to 4th AAB, 3rd ID, spoke about the UH-60 Black Hawk.
"We explained to them how to enter and exit an aircraft for a quick air assault drop off," said Spc. Brandon Pate, a Black Hawk crew chief with General Support Avn. Bn., 1st ID, and an Arkansas native. "Exiting an aircraft is dependent on the terrain or environment you are in."
Pate taught the new IA aviation troops multiple ways to load the aircraft, and said this training is essential as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw from Iraq.
"They'll be taking the mission here by themselves before too long, and it's very helpful for them to have this knowledge," he said. "They have a lot of ground to cover, and the best way to move troops is by air."
The exercise helped foster new relationships between American and Iraqi forces, and helped to strengthen bonds of the new Iraqi aviation squad.
"We're like brothers," said one IA Soldiers after his first ride in a helicopter. "We do everything together. We cover the biggest province in Iraq, and it's important that we have a well trained air force just like we have a well trained ground force."
Specialist Pate said the new aviation squad did well and looks forward to training with his new counterparts in the future.
"They were asking a lot of questions, which is always a good sign of learning, about what they could do to make themselves better at their new job," he said. "I've done a lot of things for our military in eight years that I've been in. To actually come over here (Iraq) and sit down and teach somebody else something that I do is really an honor."