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    Dusting off old skills and learning new ones

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Kirkuk, Iraq—While the security environment in Iraq has been improving, continuing to invest in and sustain warrior skills is important to ensure the future success of a military force.

    Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 8th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division took time recently to train with their Iraqi soldier partners in the 46th and 47th Brigade of the 12th Iraqi Army Division on indirect fire techniques using 120mm mortars.

    "This was very encouraging collaboration between us and the IA," said 1st Lt. Sean King, San Diego, Calif., native and mortar platoon leader for 1st Bn., 8th U.S. Cav. "Many of the concepts from today's training translate to the IA's equipment, and the confidence they gained today will serve them well."

    Over 60 members of the 46th and 47th IA Brigade mortar batteries conducted combined training with the mortar platoon of 1st Bn. 8th U.S. Cav, focusing on weapon familiarization and building confidence using the newly-fielded 120mm mortar system.

    Each IA soldier trained on key components of the 120mm mortar's M1064A3 tracked vehicle. They each rehearsed putting the gun into action, aiming the rounds, performing standard crew drills, and "hanging" at least one 120mm round from the tube.

    Many of the senior leaders of the brigade were artillery soldiers prior to the 2003 invasion, but almost none of them have had the opportunity to train with their indirect fire equipment since then.

    Furthermore, most of the IA soldiers had never fired an indirect weapon before. Despite previous experience, some admitted to being out of practice.

    "I was an artilleryman in the old regime Army," said Capt. Ahmed, a Hawijah, Iraq native, and current member of the 47th IA Brigade mortar battery. "But it's been a long time since my last mortar training. This has been about building trust in old skills. Most importantly, the mortarmen here are actually riflemen so this was a valuable exposure for them."

    The first IA soldier to hang the first round was the 46th brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Razaq.

    "The benefit to my Soldiers' morale and confidence was great today," said Razaq. "This is my goal: to make them confident, proficient and enthusiastic about their job and their mission. They gained confidence today they didn't have before."

    "I admit I was nervous after not firing mortars for so long. However, I know many of my men were afraid and nervous as well," said Capt. Omar Mejid, Diyala native, with the 47th IA Bde. mortar battery. "Because our officers fired first, we showed ourselves but more importantly the soldiers that there was nothing of which to be afraid."

    "I was nervous at first, but today I learned I don't need to be nervous, just careful," said Pvt. Leyth Musa, from Hawijah, of the 47th Bde. mortar battery.

    The partnership between units from 2nd BCT and the 12th IA Div. enables the new division, formed in August 2008, to be able to counter insurgent threats in the Kirkuk province outside of urban areas, according to Lt. Col. Hugh McNeely, deputy commander of 2nd BCT.

    "This training is an excellent opportunity," said Lt. Col. Tallal, Dibbis native, and commander of the 46th IA Bde. mortar battery. "We definitely appreciate this opportunity and look forward to future combined training."



    Date Taken: 04.25.2009
    Date Posted: 04.25.2009 11:11
    Story ID: 32868
    Location: KIRKUK, IQ 

    Web Views: 558
    Downloads: 527