AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
As U.S. forces have begun their responsible drawdown from Iraq, and as combat operations continue to decrease, other types of missions have moved to the forefront. U.S. forces have made a continued effort to pass on their knowledge to the Iraqi Security Forces that will help to ensure security and stability once U.S. forces are completely gone.
Marines from 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, conducted classes and practical application courses with Iraqi soldiers, from the 7th Iraqi Army Brigade, 2nd Route Purification Platoon, Aug. 26, 2009.
The classes given by the Marines included tactics, techniques and procedures, and sweep procedures that are all necessary when dealing with possible improvised explosive devices or unexploded ordnance.
“Over the past two weeks, we’ve been training these guys in the things we look for when dealing with IEDs,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Libby, the Route Clearance Platoon commander with 2nd CEB. “Basically we teach them exactly the same techniques we use.”
“Our goal is to help them improve so they’ll be mission capable when they have to conduct their own route clearance,” said Sgt. Jarrod Alexander, a squad leader with 2nd CEB’s Route Clearance Platoon.
Although the Marines are teaching the Iraqis all of the techniques they use, the purpose is for the Iraqis to form their own set of procedures.
“This training is presented to them as a baseline. We want them to use it to develop their own procedures so they can better prepare their soldiers,” Libby said.
Not only does the training exercise help the Iraqi soldiers build a successful route clearance platoon, but it also helps to strengthen the relationship between U.S. and Iraqi forces.
“By us working with the Iraqis, they can have more trust and confidence that U.S. forces want to see them succeed when we all leave,” Libby commented. “It shows we have the same common goal, which is defeating the enemy and returning their country back to them.”
This common goal has also been part of the reason the Marines have been so diligent in helping the Iraqi army.
“Their performance will be a reflection of our training. So we make sure that we work hard to pass on as much good information as we can,” said Alexander.
That diligence and attention to detail has also been observed by the Iraqi soldiers.
“It’s really amazing to come out and train with the Marines,” said Iraqi Army Lt. Basheer Abed, from the 7th IA Route Purification Platoon. “These guys are really good, and this training is very important. It will help us with our safety and technique.”
Abed added that the training has been successful, and training with the Marines has not only provided them with good information, but it has helped to build a positive relationship between the Iraqi army and the U.S. Marines.
Training missions like this one will be beneficial in the future when the Iraqis must draw from their own experiences and training in order to conduct missions. As U.S. forces responsibly draw down in Iraq, the ISF must continue what they are doing - maintaining security for their population as a professional, competent and capable organization that they have become.