By Spc. Terence Ewings, 4th AAB PAO, 1st Cav. Div., USD-NApril 5, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - Iraqi soldiers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 11th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division, concluded a month-long training cycle with U.S. Soldiers at Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center culminating in a battalion live fire exercise, March 31.
The Iraqi Army soldiers showcased fire and maneuver techniques taught by "Head Hunter" Troopers of 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
"This is a very high level of training and (the Iraqi soldiers) did very well; obviously this battalion is well-trained," said U.S. Division-North and 4th Infantry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins.
Attacking three different "enemy" objectives, using direct and indirect fire during the exercise, the Iraqi light infantry battalion employed all of the training learned during the previous three weeks under the tutelage of U.S. Soldiers.
Four of the IA companies led a ground assault, while the mortar company launched 60 mm and 81 mm high explosive mortar rounds, engaging notional "opposing forces" during the training exercise.
Perkins and the Head Hunter Soldiers watched as Iraqi Army soldiers maneuvered to assault the enemy positions, while mortar rounds flew overhead.
"We spend as much time thinking about and preparing doctrine for how we train as we do on how we fight and prepare our doctrine for fighting," said Perkins, during his speech following the live fire event.
"When you bring all those (elements) together, you end up with a great training exercise like this, which ends up with a well-trained unit that can fight," said Perkins.
During the past month, U.S. Soldiers have worked with their Iraqi partners to modernize the Iraqi battalion as part of Tadreeb al Shamil, an Iraqi military training program to provide individual and collective infantry training for Iraq's ground forces.
Starting at the individual, squad and platoon levels, the IA soldiers build on their tactical knowledge and skills, progressing to company and battalion-level exercises during the 25-day training cycles of Tadreeb al Shamil, Arabic for All Inclusive Training.
"They enjoy it," said Lt. Col. John Cushing, commander of the Head Hunter Squadron. "I think they enjoy getting out of the normal routine of being put on different checkpoints and they get an opportunity (to train as a battalion) and come together as one team."
The all inclusive training is an Iraqi Ground Forces Command training initiative to develop and strengthen IA units' capabilities to secure and defend the people of Iraq from external threats to Iraq's sovereignty.
This is the first battalion-level training event the Iraqi soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 11th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division have conducted collectively, said Cushing.
"(The Iraqi soldiers) have never trained together as a battalion, so we take it upon ourselves to really try to help them understand what right looks like through this training," said Cushing, a native of Rochester, Mich.
The Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center is one of two Iraqi training centers in northern Iraq where both company and battalion-sized units can practice and enhance their fire and maneuver techniques with live ammunition.
"We all knew before we came here we were coming in to advise, train and assist the Iraqi Security Forces. So whatever we could do to make that a reality is very important to the squadron," said Cushing.
During the deployment in support of Operation New Dawn, Soldiers of Head Hunter Squadron have led three iterations of the Tadreeb al Shamil rotations for the 3rd Iraqi Army Division at GWTC since January.