News: Stability Transition Team completes mission with Iraqi commandos
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq – Lt. Col. Marcel Schneider, 15th Brigade Sustainment Transition Team, and soldiers assigned to Company C, 1st Squadron, 14th Infantry Regiment conducted their last scheduled training mission in support of 15th Brigade, 12th Iraqi Army Division in Kirkuk province, Iraq, April 4.
Company C Soldiers, part of the 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, reviewed basic marksmanship skills with the 15th Bde.’s Commando Company before coaching the Iraqi soldiers as the soldiers zeroed their M-16 rifles at the range.
“Working with the 15th Brigade during the last 10 months has been a uniquely rewarding experience for me,” said Schneider. “As Operation New Dawn continues and the U.S. military’s role in Iraq becomes smaller, we finish a chapter in the history of Iraq. This chapter is finished, but we are starting a new chapter, one in which I hope our relationship will continue as our two great nations continue to work together.”
Cpl. Brandon Lamb, an infantryman assigned to Company C, lead the commandos though the four marksmanship fundamentals: steady body position, sight picture, breathing and trigger squeeze; while his platoon mates observed the Iraqi soldiers practice.
“This was one of the most disciplined groups of Iraqi soldiers I have worked with so far,” said Lamb, a native of St. Robert, Mo., “They seem to have grasped a pretty good working knowledge of what we have been teaching them. Now it’s up to them to take this knowledge and run with it.”
Many of the commandos trained with their new weapons for the first time during the classes, said Pvt. Amar Abdul Hussein, a Commando Company soldier.
“We are not experts with the M-16 yet – for some of us it is the first time we have trained with our personal weapons,” said Hussein. “The U.S. soldiers have done a good job of showing us the basics, such as the four fundamentals.”
Lamb said he and fellow U.S. soldiers also benefitted from the cooperative training.
“Since we’ve been in Iraq our unit has made it a priority to have junior leaders like me take a large part in training the Iraqis,” said Lamb. “It sharpens our skills and prepares us to train our own soldiers when we return to the States.”
Though many of the Iraqi soldiers wish they could continue training with U.S. forces, the soldiers are confident that they now have the skills to succeed on their own, said Hussein.
In the afternoon, Staff Brig. Gen. Abdulla Amir, commander of 15th Brigade, 12th IA Division, hosted a farewell ceremony to show his appreciation for Schneider, who worked closely with brigade leadership as an advisor, teacher and liaison, and to U.S. soldiers who worked to train the commando unit.
Amir said although he will personally miss Schneider both as a friend and a trusted mentor, he looks forward to the challenge of managing his troops without U.S. assistance.
"I am excited that Iraq is beginning to stand alone,” Amir said. “I look forward to the day when Iraq is strong on its own and our two countries move forward as partners.”