AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
Gunfire erupts and empty shell casings clatter to the ground as Iraqi soldiers take aim at close-range targets. As the shooting ceases, an Arabic voice shouts the commands through a megaphone, instructing the soldiers on the next course of fire. After the command to fire is given, the soldiers once again fire at their assigned targets. These drills are part of a training exercise formed to meet the needs of Iraqi Army personnel with the purpose of transforming them into more effective infantrymen.
To assist the Iraqis in this endeavor, Marines from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, assisted Iraqi commandos from the 7th Iraqi Army Division in weapons training, March 19, 2009.
“I’m impressed with their efficiency,” said 1st Lt. Scott Alexander, platoon commander for 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Recon Battalion. “They have performed very well.”
The Iraqi commando training is part of a month-long training package put together by their own senior leaders, which focuses on weapons training, land navigation, patrolling, and a host of other combat skills.
The six-day weapons training package included immediate and remedial action drills, and reloading and engagement drills.
“The Iraqi Army requested this training. They put the training package together, we’re just here to help train them and point them in the right direction,” said Alexander. “These guys are meant to be the top notch soldiers of the Iraqi Army; we just want to pass on as much knowledge as we can to these guys.”
Not only does the training exercise help the commandos hone their existing skills, but it also helps them forge a cohesive bond that’s shared amongst soldiers when they train as a unit. “This is the first time some of these guys have trained together so they are trying to get comfortable with each other, but they are eager to learn and they look to the Marines for advice,” said Robert Wise, a Special Operations Foreign Internal Defense Liaison to the Iraqi Army.
The Marines are not the only ones who see the advantages of training with the Iraqis. Iraqi Army 1st Lt. Amer Mowfuc talked about the advantages of his men being trained by the Marines.
“It’s very important that our soldiers receive training like this. When we train with other groups we get the chance to learn many different techniques, as well as sharpen our own skills.”
Mowfuc also stated that this type of training offers his men the opportunity to learn more about their personal weapons, and training alongside Marines gives them an excellent model to follow.
“We have worked with a lot of other military groups, but I personally would like my soldiers to model their performance after Marines,” said Mowfuc.
Gunfire once again erupted from the Iraqi soldiers’ rifles, piercing the targets in front of them. Marine instructors stood close by, supporting the Iraqi Commandos as they conducted the necessary training needed to be more effective marksmen. After six intense training days, the commandos had sharpened their marksmanship skills and were prepared to enter their next phase of unit training.
For more information on the ongoing mission in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, visit www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/iimeffwd.