By Spc. Terence Ewings, 4th AAB PAO, 1st Cav. Div., USD-NJune 28, 2011
JOINT SECURITY STATION INDIA, Iraq -- Soldiers of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division, successfully qualified with their M16A4 rifles after firing several magazines of ammunition at a live-fire training range at Joint Security Station India, Iraq, June 16, 2011.
"Ghost" troopers from Troop D, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, coached Iraqi instructors leading the weapons qualification for trainees.
"These guys have all the tools to be successful and proficient marksmen. Their instructors taught them well," said Sgt. Corey Maier, an armor crewman and team leader assigned to Troop D.
Trained by U.S. Soldiers earlier this year, the Iraqi instructors taught their trainees how to utilize the fundamentals of rifle marksmanship -- steady position, proper sight picture, breath control and trigger squeeze -- to engage targets in the prone supported and unsupported firing positions.
"I know we're making a difference here when I see these instructors train their soldiers to successfully complete training events like this," said Maier. "That is what being a noncommissioned officer is all about -- training and leading Soldiers."
For the past eight months, Ghost Soldiers have advised, trained and assisted soldiers from 2nd IA Div., in support of Operation New Dawn.
Prior to becoming instructors, IA soldiers attended Operation Lion Leader Forge, a month-long training event at JSS India, where they learned enhanced military and leadership skills.
"When we first started this training program, it was U.S. Soldiers training future Iraqi instructors," said Capt. Robert Prescott, commander of Troop D, 2nd Sqdn., 7th Cav. Regt. "Over the past couple of months, we've gradually handed-over responsibility of the training to the IA soldiers."
During Lion Leader Forge, U.S. Soldiers taught their counterparts basic and advanced marksmanship techniques, contact and reaction drills, dismounted patrolling tactics and combat lifesaving skills.
Now that IA soldiers are the primary instructors, Ghost troopers observe and advise their former students on concepts that can improve the training course.
"The Iraqis are very proud to be in their current role. We are just here to support them in any way we can," said Prescott.
While Iraqi instructors coached their trainees and reminded them to apply their firing fundamentals, U.S. Soldiers observed the instructors and acted as safety officers during the live fire exercise.
After trainees fired all their ammunition, U.S. mentors and IA instructors walked down the range to gather the paper targets and evaluate their performance.
"This is one of the best groups I've had the pleasure of working with," said 1st Lt. Jordan Morris, a platoon leader with Troop D. "They all qualified, and each one of them have the potential to be future instructors."
In addition to the Lion Leader Forge training effort, U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces soldiers are preparing for Operation Iron Lion, a series of exercises demonstrating interoperability of ISF agencies.
"As a leader in today's Army, it makes me feel good to know that we've set these Iraqi instructors up for success," said Morris. "I look forward to seeing these guys go on to do great things."