CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq -- Twenty-five Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 1st Division successfully completed the Iraqi Small-Arms Weapons Instructor Course at the 2nd Marine Division Training Center here June 30.
The demanding two-week course immersed the students in the fundamental techniques of practical marksmanship applied to the AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, RPK light machinegun and PKM medium machinegun. The course also incorporated enhanced marksmanship program techniques to develop speed, accuracy and reloading skills at close range. But the basic intent behind the course was to enable the soldiers to train others – “train the trainer.”
Colonel Mark Gurganus, commanding officer, Regimental Combat Team - 8, addressed the newly certified small-arms instructors.
“It’s obvious from looking at all of your targets on the walls of this classroom that a lot of hard work has been done here over the last two weeks. But the skills that you have perfected here are no good if you keep them to yourselves,” said Gurganus. “You must share your knowledge and skills with the soldiers around you when you go back to your units.”
Chief Warrant Officer “Gunner” Terry L. Walker, the division training center’s officer in charge, believes success in weapons instruction is built on a bond between instructors and students.
“Along with marksmanship, we develop loyalty and treat each student with dignity and respect,” said Walker. “These soldiers have shot thousands of rounds in the last two weeks – and I can tell you that every round has been evaluated by the instructors along with the students. Everyone is treated as an equal – and I can honestly say that these Iraqi soldiers can shoot as well as or better than U.S. Marines.”
Walker said that although the training center did not typically recognize course honor graduates as such, he did want to make two special presentations. He called out Aareef (Sgt.) Ali Maher Aoda of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, personal security detachment, and Jundi (Pvt.) Mohammed Jamal Nasser of 1st Battalion and presented them each with a brand new folding field knife. Ali finished the course as high shooter, while Mohammed finished first in every relay he participated in.
“(Col. Gurganus) said that the insurgency will not be defeated by U.S. Marines, but by Iraqi soldiers,” said Mulaazem (2nd Lt.) Abbas Noori Abdull Hadi, with the personal security detachment, Headquarters Company. “We are the Iraqi soldiers, and we will defeat the insurgents.”