By Spc. Terence Ewings, 4th AAB PAO, 1st Cav. Div., USD-NJune 1, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - With mortar rounds flying overhead and artillery rounds exploding near the front lines, Iraqi Army soldiers maneuvered toward their objective during a battalion-level live fire exercise at Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center, May 26.
Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 9th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division demonstrated tactics, techniques and procedures learned from the previous month of Tadreeb al Shamil courses led by U.S. Soldiers at GWTC.
Tadreeb al Shamil is an Iraqi military program in which U.S. advisors teach combat skills to Iraqi battalions during month-long rotations at GWTC and several other bases throughout Iraq.
Iraqi soldiers greeted U.S. Division-North and 4th Infantry Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins, who reviewed the exercise and commented on the IA's improving combat skills.
"The most encouraging observation is that we all continue to get better with each training rotation, and that shows as we bring each subsequent battalion through," said Perkins. "Throughout the five rotations that we've had here so far, it is very clear that information is making its way into the entire army."
Iraqi staff Col. Tawfiq Kalaf, commander of 2nd Bn., 9th Bde., joined Perkins and other Iraqi and American leaders on the reviewing stand as the event progressed.
The reviewing group watched intently as the Iraqi battalion swept through the valley below, utilizing the combat tactics learned in the previous month to attack three different "enemy" objectives.
Kalaf said the live fire exercise was successful and would give his soldiers more confidence to execute real missions in the future.
"We are happy to receive this training," said Kalaf. "The training efforts of the Iraqi Army and the American Army were really good, and we have a good partnership."
"Head Hunter" troopers of 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, led the Iraqi battalion through the Tadreeb al Shamil courses at GWTC.
Starting at the individual, squad and platoon level, IA soldiers build on their tactical knowledge and skills, progressing to company and battalion-level exercises during the month-long training cycles.
"This is our chapter in Iraqi deployments," said Lt. Col. John Cushing, Head Hunter Squadron commander. "Just like there was the surge chapter (during) Operation Iraqi Freedom, this is our final chapter to accomplish our mission, and it's critical we do a good job with this as well."
Following the completion of the live fire exercise, Iraqi soldiers graduated from the month of training, marking the fifth successful Tadreeb al Shamil cycle at GWTC.
Deployed in support of Operation New Dawn, the 4th AAB Soldiers from Fort Hood are responsible for advising, training and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in northern Iraq.
"By doing this, we're accomplishing the mission and honoring all those who have been here to Iraq on multiple deployments and given the ultimate sacrifice," said Cushing.