News: IA soldiers sharpen skills through Operation Eagle’s Talon
Story by Staff Sgt. Tanya Green
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq – Gusty winds and low visibility during another Iraq sandstorm didn’t deter Soldiers from the Iraqi Army’s 8th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division willingness to train.
About 30 Soldiers from the Iraqi brigade joined U.S. soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, recently, to take part in Operation Eagle’s Talon, a five-day exercise that allows the Iraqi and U.S. troops the opportunity to share their tactical expertise while training together.
“We're trying to increase the basic skill level of the Iraqi soldiers in this brigade, as well as trying to focus on their leadership so that once we leave [Iraq], their [non-commissioned officers] and their junior officers are able to effectively train their junior soldiers on their own,” said 1st Lt. Steven Alquesta, platoon leader with B Company, 3rd Bn., 15th Inf. Regt., and East Canaan, Conn., native.
Alquesta and his soldiers worked with the IA Soldiers on the basic fundamentals of marksmanship, how to react to contact, team and squad movement techniques, as well as other tactical skills.
“They've been doing quite well,” Alquesta said. “You can see marked improvement from the beginning of the class to the end. Marksmanship is somewhat of a challenge [to teach] and a lot of that is (due to) the language barrier. [Also], some of these guys are very new and a lot of the techniques that we're teaching them they haven't seen before.”
The U.S. soldiers worked with the IA leaders separately, then took on an advisory role and watched as the IA leaders took the information they learned and taught their soldiers.
“What we're really trying to do is get their NCOs to be able to take the lead with these kinds of [soldiering] tasks so that they will be able to continue doing this after we leave,” Alquesta said. “It is important that they continue this king of training often and effectively, even when no one is watching.”
Staff Sgt. Tripler Sooalo, platoon sergeant with B Company, and native of Pago Pago, American Samoa, said he was glad that the IA students showed a great interest in the training.
“They asked a lot of questions, and we gave them a lot of answers,” he said. “It's a good feeling to know that when you teach somebody our basic fundamentals, and our tactics, that they're willing to learn. We just want to train them so that they can be proficient and become better Soldiers for their country.”
Operation Eagle's Talon is also underway at other IA training areas in Iraq. Soldiers from throughout the 3rd Bn., 15th Inf. Regt plan to continue instructing the course throughout their deployment.