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    Iraqi Stryker training: U.S. troops prepare Iraqi military to be self-sufficient

    Iraqi Stryker Training: U.S. Troops Prepare Iraqi Military to Be Self-suffi

    Photo By John Crosby | Iraqi army soldiers 2nd Platoon, 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 9th...... read more read more

    TAJI, Iraq – "There will be no walking on my site," said Sgt. 1st Class Tyroid Weston, a truck driver in the 202nd Brigade Support Battalion, to the new platoon of Iraqi army soldiers, Nov. 6, at Camp Taji, Iraq. "You are Strykers, you are swift and lethal, do you understand?"

    Weston and his team of four other non-commissioned officers with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash., graduate a new platoon of Iraqi army soldiers every 10 days from the Iraqi Army Stryker Training Course in Taji. The course is designed to get IA soldiers ready to conduct missions with coalition forces in Iraq.

    "By the time you complete this course you will be ready to fight, ready to accomplish all you put your mind to and more," Weston said to the class.

    When the IA soldiers reach Stryker training, they are fresh out of basic and not very experienced, Weston said. Occasionally an officer will take the course but, the Iraq soldiers are pretty inexperienced overall. The U.S. instructors hone in on the IA soldiers basic skills including uniform, weapons posture, discipline, close combat marksmanship and the concept of team work.

    "I see a lot of scared guys who are not sure what to expect," Weston commented on the platoon's first day of training. "We don't brief them on what's next so that they don't get complacent."

    "In easy terms, you have to teach them to tie their shoes," said Staff Sgt. Ronald Meader, an infantryman in Company C, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, and Stryker instructor, "but they catch on quick. They're smart and they're eager to please. By day four I think they really catch on to the reality of what they're training for."

    "These guys are here because they want to make a difference," Weston said.

    "Thanks to the coalition forces guys," said Sgt. Mahdi Abbod Jabbara, 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, said through an interpreter. "They try to give us the best of what they have. They share the best of their military knowledge so that our army can make changes for the better and make a difference here."

    Jabbara spent 17 years in the former Iraqi army. He has been enlisted in the new Iraqi army for nine months now.

    "I joined to defend my country against the terrorists' army militias and hope to make some changes," Jabbara said. "We will take our country back from the insurgents so that we can take our families into the city without worry, and our children can go to school."

    "We will take ground from the terrorists and leave our mark on the land," said Cpl. Jalil Kareem Jasim, an instructor at the Stryker Training Course. "The world will know the Iraqi army is here. Our loyalty is for our country and her people, not any religious cause. I don't think that any Iraqi wants the darkness in control any longer. It's time for the sun."

    Upon completion of the course, IA soldiers receive a certificate.

    IA troops shrink the certificate down, put their picture on it and carry it in their wallets like an ID card. They are proud to complete this course, Weston said.

    The course trains the IA soldiers on everything from uniformity and how to hold their weapons to reacting to incoming fire and classes on the Geneva Convention. They conduct room clearing drills, reflexive fire drills and marksmanship on the range. They operate in a mock city in which they patrol and train. Platoons must successfully pass evaluation at the end of the course in order to graduate.

    "Platoon evaluation incorporates all of their skills into one scenario," said Sgt. Shawn Warnock, 45th Military Intelligence Company. "They start from the mock, joint combat outpost and patrol the streets. They encounter people on patrol and need to acquire information on the area. They will need to assault and clear buildings, detain and kill the enemy in accordance with the Geneva Convention."

    Warnock said by the time the soldiers graduate, they will be able to create a mission plan and patrol route using rock drills. They can safely execute and successfully complete their mission in accordance with the laws of war and respect to the local populace.

    "Their people are ready to see them in charge and out there on the streets," Weston said. "They need to be prepared for whatever comes for them. This is the new generation. They are the future of Iraq. They're ready."
    "The most rewarding part is seeing their sergeants take charge because they normally don't take charge," Weston said. "It's great to see the soldiers responding to their orders. The second most rewarding part is watching them get ready to go on their missions. The look of fear is gone. They look ready to defeat any obstacle that comes in their way."

    "This is the best team I have worked with," said an interpreter for the U.S. trainers who preferred to remain anonymous, because they care and they try to share all of their military knowledge. They don't let soldiers go home without being sure that they understood everything that day. Sometimes they are tough, but it is to instill discipline and to teach the soldiers to be professional all of the time. We try to unite them without sectarianism. We teach these young men's minds to protect all Iraqis, not just certain sects. We are all Iraqis."

    Usually within a day of graduating the Stryker Training Course, the Iraqi soldiers receive orders to conduct missions in 4-2's area of operations, Weston said. They conduct patrols, search for weapons caches and man checkpoints with coalition forces.

    Upon graduation Weston and his team wait with the Iraqi soldiers for helicopters to pick them up and take them to their missions.

    "We do their pre-combat-inspections and talk to them about taking care of each other," Weston said. "We tell them to look out for the Americans and most of all, win the hearts and minds of their people because they will be watching."

    The day after graduation, Weston and his team received a new platoon and started the process over again.

    Weston said the schedule can wear on the trainers as well as the IA soldiers, but he wouldn't take anything back and he wouldn't do anything different.



    Date Taken: 11.17.2007
    Date Posted: 11.17.2007 02:05
    Story ID: 13991
    Location: TAJI, IQ

    Web Views: 1,460
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