News: 1-377th ARF bulldogs teach IA commandos new tricks
Story by Spc. Maurice Galloway
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq — When talking about any kind of training dealing with things that fly, it may not be the best idea to label the training a "crash course." However that's exactly what the 14th Iraqi army commandos received during their intense week of training at Camp Wessam from the 1st Battalion (Air Assault), 377th Field Artillery Regiment.
Soldiers from 1-377th, Bravo Battery (Bulldogs) Air Reactionary force engaged in training designed to integrate Iraqi commandos into the Air Reactionary Force.
The course was more of a refresher, as many of the commandos have already gone through similar training in the past.
The design of the course focused on using proper techniques at landing zones, loading and unloading from helicopters in secure and unsecure locations and establishing perimeter security in hostile and friendly environments.
"These commandos approached the training with the right attitude and an eagerness to learn," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeff L. Keese, 1-377th Bravo Battery, platoon sergeant and ARF training instructor.
Keese said that they had been training the Iraqi commandos in air reactionary force techniques for five days, spending about two days on each group that they trained.
The 1-377th Soldiers put the commandos through an intense yet repetitive regiment of drills that focused on making procedures second nature for them.
"When the call comes in and we're needed in the air, there isn't much time think, you have to be able to just react," said Spc. William C. Mautler, 1-377th, Bravo Battery, cannon crew member. "It's for that exact reason that we're making them go over the same drills five to six times, so when the time comes they'll be ready without a shadow of a doubt."
The drills took the commandos through the intricate process of responding to an incident by air, replicating each step they would be faced with during an actual response.
"We can't simulate the noise that the choppers make, but we can teach them to communicate without being able to hear," said Pvt. Cheston K. Bun, 1-377th, Bravo Battery, cannon crew member and native of Philadelphia. "The hand signals that we use are universal and the commandos have picked up on them at a much more rapid pace than we had anticipated."
Although much of the training was done on the ground, each of the groups did have the opportunity to conduct an actual flight response patrol.
"We are thankful for all of the training that our U.S. partners have provided," said 1st Lt. Jassim, 14th Iraqi Army commando, platoon leader. "They have placed a great deal in making sure that we will able to conduct operations on our own in the future."