CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq " Following the end of combat operations across Iraq late last year, U.S. troops began the mission of advising and training Iraqi Security Forces during Operation New Dawn.
U.S. Soldiers assigned to 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, spent the past eight months training their Iraqi counterparts throughout Ninewa province to build a sustainable security force for the country.
ISF in Ninewa province now plan to participate in Operation Iron Lion, a series of exercises showcasing interoperability between the agencies, throughout the month of June.
The purpose of Operation Iron Lion is to demonstrate to the local populace that Iraqi forces are capable of independently providing security from both internal and external threats, said Lt. Col. Phillip Gage, operations officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th AAB.
Soldiers of 2nd and 3rd Iraqi Army Divisions, policemen from 3rd Federal Police Division, and local police units are each slated to play a role in a culminating training exercise to display their ability to eliminate threats, investigate crime scenes and perform basic urban operations to enhance public safety.
The operation will be conducted at multiple locations throughout Ninewa province.
“This exercise shows that the ISF are trained and ready to protect the people of Ninewa province and the country of Iraq,” said Gage, a native of Diboll, Texas.
“(Operation Iron Lion) is important to the local population so they are confident once U.S. forces leave, the Iraqi Security Forces can protect them and enable their government to continue to grow into a stable democracy,” Gage added.
Iraqi forces are scheduled to conduct several exercises during the operation, including police raids of suspected violent extremist networks, crime scene investigations, and a large-scale live fire exercise.
Following the conclusion of the operation, Iraqi and U.S. forces plan to assess strengths and weaknesses observed throughout the individual exercises.
“This is their opportunity to demonstrate what they are capable of and show the (federal) government, the provincial government and the general population, ‘we are capable of performing operations, and performing them together,’” said Lt. Col. James Adams, operations officer assigned to Task Force Spear, 4th AAB, and a native of Alexandria, La. “In the end, they’ll be one of the best military forces in the Middle East.”