MUDAYSIS AIRFIELD, Iraq --
Two Iraqi soldiers took positions inside a stationary vehicle and waited until they were given the command to move. Once instructed, they exited the vehicle and made their way toward makeshift barriers and windows and began engaging targets. Once they fired at the first few targets, they continued down the line and took aim at the next set of targets, keeping in sync with one another’s movements.
Marines from Reconnaissance Platoon, Regimental Combat Team 8, led Iraqi soldiers from Commando Company, 29th Brigade,7th Iraqi Army Division, in marksmanship training at Mudaysis Airfield, Iraq, June 22-24, 2009.
“It’s great that recon [Marines] could come out to train these guys,” said 1st Lt. Todd Musicant, assistant operations officer with the 29th Brigade Military Transition Team. “These guys are professionals; they train in these tactics all the time. So the Iraqi soldiers will be able to learn a lot from these guys.”
Some of the marksmanship aspects the Iraqis trained in were proper target engagement, engaging targets using cover, engaging multiple targets and proper immediate and remedial reaction drills.
“It’s very important for these guys to focus on this type of training,” said Cpl. Jake Hildenbrandt, a point man with recon platoon. “Getting a good grasp on this stuff will help them become more proficient with their weapons, and it could also help them save their buddies’ lives, as well as their own.”
Although the Iraqi soldiers improved their shooting greatly, it doesn’t take away from the large amount of hard work that went into the training.
“We did the whole crawl, walk, run thing,” Musicant said. “We started with the basic weapons skills, and then from there we progressed into stationary shoots and from there we went into more complex firing drills.”
Musicant went on to say even though all of the drills took place on the range, the techniques they learned will also transition into room clearing procedures.
Although the Marines of recon platoon only trained a few groups of Iraqi commandos, their intent is that the training doesn’t end when the last round is fired.
“The recon Marines made sure to train the commandos in such a way that they would be able to train their counterparts,” Musicant said.
“They are already starting to help each other out,” said Cpl. Christopher LeClair, an assistant team leader with recon platoon. “When they see one of their guys doing something the wrong way, they stop them and show them the correct way. They’ve been making our job easier.”
More than just making the Marines’ job easier, the Iraqis also worked hard to build confidence in their newly sharpened skills.
“From the time we started until now, you can definitely see that their confidence has boosted,” LeClair said. “Not only has their improvement boosted their confidence, but it’s boosted ours as well. It feels good to see them grasp the things we’ve taught them and become better shooters.”
In addition to the useful weapons skills, the Marines of recon platoon left the Iraqi soldiers with a few other useful tools for their training needs. All of the barriers and windows the recon Marines worked to build, as well as the targets, were left at Mudaysis Airfield for the Iraqis to continue to practice and perfect their already capable skill set.
As the sound of the last gunshot faded into silence, the Marines and Iraqi soldiers exited the range and prepared to close out this portion of training. In the distance, the barriers and bullet-riddled targets showed more than just improvements in marksmanship; they showed the improvements in relationships between Iraqi and Coalition forces.