NUMANIYAH, Iraq - The 8th Iraqi Army Division has begun training in southern Iraq that will bring its Soldiers to a new level of confidence and proficiency.
Led by the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the 8th IA is conducting a long-term training exercise that will incorporate four battalions of IA, two troops from the 3rd ACR, and a Stability Transition Team working together to conduct multiple platoon and company level drills.
The four-month training event, dubbed "Eagles Rising," after the division's bird of prey symbol, is focused on training the Iraqi division on basic tasks and drills that will prepare them for future security missions once U.S. forces have departed.
"The purpose of the training here is simply to make these Iraqi Soldiers better," said Col. Adam A. Loveless, the STT chief who works with the 8th IA. "Without the training center and the support from all the cadre, this would not be possible."
The sprawling complex is made up of several buildings that were once constructed as housing units nearly 25 years ago. The unoccupied, three-story concrete buildings, devoid of windows, make ideal structures for military training.
Each Iraqi battalion will see four phases of training as the months pass. Currently, they are being led and observed by their U.S. counterparts. The second and third phases will see U.S. cadre relinquishing more control to Iraqi leadership.
The fourth and final phase will have the Iraqis in complete control of each event.
"This training program that we developed is similar to what other units are doing in Iraq as part of the All Inclusive Training Program, but because this is a separate effort between the Regiment and our 8th IA Division partners, we were able to expand the training to include 5 companies and a battalion headquarters," said Col. Reginald Allen, commander of 3rd ACR.
One unique facet of the training is its dependence on a team of Iraqi Army training cadre. The An Numaniyah Training Base has long served as a training facility for Iraqi Army units across Iraq. Similar to training centers in the U.S., the base hosts a team of dedicated cadre, who are involved as observer-controllers for Eagles Rising, alongside U.S. cadre.
Iraqi Soldiers spent Wednesday divided into small teams conducting assault and defend drills. Each team that passed through the lanes displayed the skills they had thus far attained. As they charged toward the opposing force Soldiers, they maintained communication and coordination with their team members, successfully securing their objectives.
"All of the cadre here are seeing Iraqi Soldiers that are excited and really motivated to come and do the training," said Loveless.
The training, currently in its initial stages, was built in collaborative fashion with the 8th Iraqi Army Division. 3d ACR leaders conducted several planning sessions with Iraqi Army planners to ensure that the training was specifically tailored to provide the most value to Iraqi Soldiers.
"The program includes a heavy emphasis on maneuver training, with cadre mentorship down to the platoon level," said Allen. "It is the only training program in Iraq incorporating the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, or MILES, into the training to help simulate real battlefield effects."
The 3rd ACR has taken careful measures in both planning and resourcing to make the most out of the unique opportunity to train the Iraqi Soldiers.
"In the end the 8th Division will be one of the best fighting units in the Iraqi Army" said Allen.