AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
Now that Coalition forces have begun to take the necessary steps toward a responsible drawdown, it’s very important that they work to pass on their knowledge to Iraqi forces. Although the Iraqi Security Forces have most of the tools needed to keep their country safe, Coalition forces must still contribute toward ensuring the ISF are ready to stand alone.
To that end, Marines from Regimental Combat Team 8’s communication section instructed Iraqi soldiers in procedures dealing with radio functions and operations, May 20-24, 2009.
“The purpose of this class is to assist Iraqi forces in strengthening their knowledge in conducting radio operations,” said Sgt. Jaime Osornio, a radio operator who helped give the training. “Each Iraqi brigade sent one of their officers here to take part in this training. Our goal is to teach them as much as we can, so they can go back and teach their men.”
Over the course of five days, the Marines gave classes dealing with radio transmission, antenna fundamentals, and antenna construction. After the Marines gave their classes, the group then moved outside to apply their new skills.
“The class has progressed extremely well,” Osornio said. “I definitely think they’ll be able to take this information and be able to instruct others.”
The evident language barrier that existed between the Marines and Iraqi’s proved to play a role during the classes.
“The first day was a dry run, when we finished, we adjusted some of the material with the help of the interpreter in order for us to make the class more effective,” Osornio said.
“I’ve taught classes in the past, but it’s definitely a little more difficult with the language barrier,” said Cpl. Jonathan Matias, a RCT-8 radio operator with RCT-8. “But even with the language barrier we’ve still been able to make a good amount of progress.”
More than just making progress in the classroom, working around the language barrier has also proved to be beneficial in other areas.
“When we’re able to work through the language barrier it helps build a bond between us and the Iraqis,” said Matias.
“Instead of us just giving them the slide shows and additional information, we want to actually work with them so they can see that we want to help them,” Osornio said. “We don’t want these men to think we’re trying to ignore them, we want them to see that we really care.”
Although the process was long and tedious, the Marines say they were glad to assist the Iraqi soldiers.
“I definitely feel good working with the Iraqi Army,” Matias said. “This is something I always wanted to do, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to be a part of this.”
With the change in the Marines’ changing mission in Iraq requiring them to step back more and more each day, the Iraqi Security Forces must be ready to provide their own people with a safe and stable environment in which to live. Classes and interactions such as the five-day communications course are a good way to ensure that when the day comes for U.S. and Coalition forces to leave Iraq complete, the ISF are ready to stand alone.