Photo Information

CAMP ALI Ar Ramadi, Iraq - Sergeant Eric K. Stuart, a rifleman and training noncommissioned officer with the Combined Action Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, stands in front of an Iraqi Security Forces formation during a training session here. The 27-year-old Albuquerque, N.M. and his fellow Marines with the platoon are responsible for training new members of the Iraqi Security Forces during the infantry battalion's deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by: Cpl. Tom Sloan

Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

1/5 Marines teach Iraqis ways of the warrior, produce capable ISF

1 Jun 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

While a majority of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment’s frontline forces patrol the urban battlefield hunting for insurgents, a platoon of Marines with Company B have a different role in the securing of this city and the restoration of its infrastructure – training Iraqi Security Forces. New ISF members arrive at the camp here motivated and receive 12 days of training from the 40 Marines who make up the Combined Action Platoon. They then leave as highly skilled professionals ready to conduct security and stabilization operations. “They come to us knowing basic military knowledge,” said 2nd Lt. Michael L. Burke, the platoon’s commander. “We sharpen their skills and get them to the point of being able to conduct missions in the city. A physical training session kicks off every day at 8 a.m. The Marines lead their Iraqi counterparts in running and performing various calisthenics for approximately an hour. After PT the Marines instruct ISF in various skills until 5 p.m. The program the Iraqi soldiers attend is similar to the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry, according to Lance Cpl. Nick C. Strowmatt, a grenadier and instructor with the platoon. “They learn how to be infantrymen from us,” said the 22-year-old from Kailua, Hawaii. They are also taught the importance of small unit leadership. “A big focus of ours is building a strong NCO corps within them,” he said. “They have the rank structure, and we stress to them that NCOs are the backbone of their force.” The 2001 Kalaheo High School graduate said he and his fellow Marines teach them the fundamentals of patrolling, marksmanship and how to conduct hasty vehicle control points while on patrol. The soldiers are also taught detainee handling procedures and how to set up security positions. Strowmatt, who’s in Iraq for the third time supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he is honored to be a part of training Iraq’s future security forces. “I believe in the mission the Marines and I are doing,” he said. “Working with them on a day-to-day basis and seeing them improve is gratifying. It’s a window into seeing the whole country getting better. The ISF will, with our help, eventually be able to take care of securing their own country so that I might not have to come back here a fourth time. We’re making our mark on Iraq by training these guys, which is something we can look back on later and say, ‘yeah, we were a part of that.’” According to Burke, the trained ISF personnel will soon be accompanying Company B Marines on patrols through the city. “First we’re going to attach a squad of Iraqi soldiers to a platoon of our Marines and go on missions,” he explained. “We’ll see how that works for awhile, and then we’ll switch it around and have a squad of Marines to a platoon of Iraqi soldiers out there. We’re taking the crawl, walk, run approach.” Since assuming the training role two months ago, Burke and his platoon of Marines have trained 600 ISF. He’s confident in the force they’ve stood up. “They are very capable and professional,” he said. “They take charge and the general principles of mission accomplishment and troop welfare is important to them. Their performance is a testament to the Marines’ hard work.”