By Spc. Nathaniel Smith
4 Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
BAGHDAD – For the past 14 months in the Rashid District of southern Baghdad, the Soldiers of 610th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, have been training Iraqi national police in everything from medical skills to vehicle maintenance.
Now, as they prepare to go home, they are transitioning that responsibility to their replacements from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Capt. James Custis, the support operations planner for 610th BSB, said he does not foresee any problems with the handoff.
"Since (1-4 BCT) has been here, we've been taking them out with us, checking out the training, and it should be a smooth transition," said the Nassawadox, Va., native.
Gaining the trust of the INPs was an obstacle for initially. Chief, admitted Warrant Officer Alexander Taylor, the battalion maintenance officer for the 610th BSB, who also teaches automotive maintenance.
"The biggest challenge we had at the beginning was getting them to trust us and realize we're here to help them improve their country by teaching them the basic skills of how to run a maintenance facility," said the Fayetteville, N.C., native.
Taylor, who has been teaching a modified form of the U.S. Army basic mechanic's course for approximately four months now, said he anticipates a different set of obstacles for the "Raider" Brigade's trainers.
"The biggest challenge they're going to face is getting in, getting their feet wet, learning the cultural differences and adapting to them, and trying to get to the same speed we're going now," he said.
For Custis, the hardest aspect of providing the training has not been with the implementation itself but getting the Iraqi security forces' leadership to embrace it.
"If we can get the leadership to buy in on the training, then it's that much easier," he said. "We've got a lot of Iraqi leaders that'll buy off on the maintenance training, but they don't see the medical training as being important so you don't have much support there. But, they have come a long way."
Some units have come so far, in fact, the 7th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division, has taken over the combat lifesaver's training, with MND-B medics only observing, which, Custis added, was the original intent.
While the mechanical side of the house has not reached the same point, Taylor said he anticipates some units of the Iraqi security forces will be ready to take over the training in approximately six months.
This work, Soldiers of 610th BSB transition with 4th Inf. Div. counterparts, by SSG Nathaniel Smith, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.