BESMAYA, Iraq — Airmen are advising more than 20 Iraqi Army soldiers in Besmaya about ammunition logistics, helping create a self-sustaining munitions unit.
To reach this goal, airmen and contractors created a 26-day course comprised of 10 days of classroom training and 16 days of field training.
Iraqi Army Warrant Officer Habib, the class leader, said many of his soldiers have never handled munitions before and the class provides a lot of important information. Habib said his soldiers are excited to learn and are improving their proficiency because of the training.
“This is good training and the advisers are teaching us well,” said Habib. “Our teachers have great experience and share lots information with us to make us better. In the future, we won’t be students anymore, we’ll be in charge of the munitions holding area, and this course will teach us how to handle munitions the right way.”
Habib said many soldiers scored more than 90 percent on a written munitions test. He is confident that any of them could become munitions instructors in order to teach other Iraqi soldiers.
“We make sure the Iraqi army troops have all the resources they need to sustain a unit,” said Lt. Col. Marcia Evans, Iraq Training and Advisory Mission- Army lead adviser at Besmaya, who is deployed from Joint Base Andrews, Md., and is a native of Greenwood, Miss. “We are also making sure they understand the importance of standing up a unit to take care of munitions.”
Instructors said even though the training is brief, they’re confident the Iraqi soldiers will be able to operate a successful munitions facility when the U.S. military transitions out of Iraq.
During the first 10 days of training, the Iraqi soldiers are taught storage and inspection practices, munitions identification and safety. Instructors use mortar shells, bullets and other training aids to give their students the best visualization possible.
While in the field, the students perform a complete inventory of all ammunition. They also perform residue disposal to separate any live rounds found in expended ammo. Finally, the soldiers practice forklift munitions handling and maneuver pallets of ammo around the munitions area.
“The hands-on training allows the Iraqi soldiers the chance to see what we’ve taught them and put what they’ve learned into practice,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeromy Collins, an ITAM-Army munitions adviser, who is deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and is from Junction City, Kan.
Other training involves spending time at live firing ranges with U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams to experience the power and destructiveness of the munitions they’re dealing with.
“This training is an expedited process,” said Tech. Sgt. Duane Edington, munitions adviser with ITAM-Army, deployed from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and a native of Portland, Ore. “As munitions troops [in the U.S. Air Force], we spend 11 weeks in a technical school; these guys get 26 days. We’re giving them as much information as we can and give them a standard they can work off of when we’re gone.”
The Iraqi soldiers have shown great enthusiasm and are quick learners.
“These guys have been working really hard. They have tremendous energy and desire to learn the job,” Collins said. “They’ve taken an interest in the ammunition holding area because it’s going to be theirs one day, and they want to make it look good.”