News: Iraqi army route clearance platoons assume mission responsibility
Story by Sgt. Coltin Heller
K1 TRAINING CENTER, Iraq – Iraqi army soldiers of 12th Field Engineer Regiment graduated a route clearance training course during a ceremony at the K1 Training Center, Kirkuk province, Iraq, July 2.
The two platoons that comprise the regiment have been conducting combined operations and training with 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, for the past seven months.
Having conducted their final evaluation lanes and graduation ceremony, the Iraqi soldiers of 12th FE Regiment accepted the mantle of responsibility for the route clearance mission in Kirkuk province.
“Our primary mission out here has been to conduct combined route clearance missions with the Iraqi army,” said Sgt. Matthew Davis, Company C, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st AATF. “After combined operations, our next focus was training. We went through all the battle drills and training with these IA [soldiers] that we do ourselves.”
Iraqi field engineers were not completely unfamiliar with the combat engineer and route clearance arena, said 1st Lt. Brandon Jones, route clearance platoon leader, Company C.
“These Iraqi army soldiers have been conducting route clearance type missions, in some capacity, for one to two years prior to us actually starting our training with them,” said Jones. “They had a grasp of the basics. We introduced a lot of our techniques and procedures and training methods to help them refine the way they train and operate.”
“Devil” Task Force soldiers of Company C not only trained Iraqi soldiers during classes, but also provided on-the-job training during combined missions, allowing the trainees to witness U.S. forces’ route clearance methods first-hand.
Company C began serving as the primary route clearance team for Contingency Operating Site Warrior and K1 after deploying to U.S. Division–North last year.
“When we first started with them, we had to break them down to basic knowledge for some things to give them a solid foundation,” said Jones. “After seven months, however, of running missions with us and training three to four days a week, I feel completely confident in their ability to conduct the route clearance mission here without any help.”
There are still things to be learned along the way, Jones said, but overall the soldiers of 12th FE Regiment are going to continue to improve and develop to become a very successful route clearance unit.