Story by: 1st Lt. Darryl Frost
BAGHDAD -- The summer heat is not far off, but a cool breeze is blowing on the banks of the Tigris River as Iraqi police attended classes at the Baghdad River Patrol Training Center near the Fourteenth of July Bridge in the International Zone.
The patrolling center serves at a collective training point for Iraqi police to learn all skills associated with river patrol operations, which include search and rescue actions and patrolling of the river, all in an effort to protect Iraq's citizens and support military operations.
Much like U.S. military troop schools, the BRPTC courses deal with basics to advanced-level tasks associated each area of instruction.
Class sizes differ. However, generally the number is below 20 students per class. Most of the students are enlisted members of the police department, but Iraqi lower-level officers, up to the rank of captain, attend the course for training in river patrolling operations.
"Anyone with an aptitude can come," said Lt. Laith Muia'ad Abass Daud al-Taie, chief instructor at the BRPTC. "For the first time our history, we have all [Iraqi] provinces joined in."
"Our problem now is not enough classroom space," said Laith. "My hope is someday our course[s] are not limited to 20 persons [per classroom]."
From across Iraq, police departments send their candidates to the BRPTC to learn outboard motor maintenance, diving techniques and river patrolling operations.
Through these three main courses, the BRPTC offers the basic framework the police will need to run river security and safety operations working with the local civilian population and the Iraqi army.
Two-months long, the outboard motor maintenance course provides Iraqi police with a thorough grounding in basic repairs. When students graduate, they understand how to totally rebuild a boat engine from the ground up.
They begin by identifying all the parts of a boat engine. Once they understand all the pieces, they will break down and reassemble a boat motor to understand the inner workings to solve future problems.
The diver course is three-months long. When student arrive for this course, they must have basic swimming skills and be very comfortable in the open water.
Using this as a foundation, the Iraqi instructors teach the students according to international diving standards. They learn basic and advanced scuba diving techniques, open water operations and the elements of search and rescue.
The waterborne patrol course is another class offered. First aid is the starting point for the course. Once students demonstrate their first aid knowledge, they extensively study river geography and the advantages and disadvantages of different river boat types.
Rarely do students take more than one course. To take additional classes, the Iraqi police officers must return to their units and reapply to take part in another course.
Training the Trainers
In 2004, the primary instructors spent two months on Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School in Stennis, Miss., where they leaned river patrol operations techniques.
Leveraging the training there, the BRPTC primary instructors have built a distinctly Iraqi curriculum applicable to the local waters.
Currently, three U.S. advisors are also involved with training, advising and mentoring Iraqis at the school. One is responsible for teaching waterborne operations, how to pilot the boats and how to use the boats to conduct operations.
Another advisor is a highly skilled and qualified instructor responsible for the dive training. All together, these advisors have teaching certifications required to conduct operations in search and rescue, safety patrols and counter smuggling.
Referring to the Iraqi BRPTC primary instructors, a U.S. advisor said, "These guys are squared away. They will be an asset."
Over the past several years, the school has been refining its technical teaching manuals, which were originally derived from U.S. materials.
Now their manuals have largely replaced photos of U.S. service members with photos of Iraqis, which gives the Iraqi Police more of a sense of pride, according to the staff.
In the new manuals, the diagrams have also been changed from American-designed boats to watercraft Iraqis identify with locally.
Back to Work
When the Iraqi police graduate from the course, they are released back to locations all along the Tigris River where they will serve the civilian population by securing the waterway for government and business facilities.
Also, by serving as life guards, the Iraqi Police help people on the river. Recently, at the Fourteenth of July Bridge checkpoint, the patrol team jumped into action when a civilian accident resulted in a vehicle's fall from the bridge into the water.
The patrolling Iraqis immediately sped their boats to the victims, saved their lives and later recovered the vehicle, showing how vital the river patrol is to everyday life in Iraq.
Iraqi police, serving as part of river patrol operations, will perform military maneuvers on the water; both independent and combined efforts can be accomplished working in conjunction with the Iraqi Army when necessary.
After graduating from BRPTC, the Iraqi police have vast knowledge of weapons associated with the patrol boats, which will serve as check points on the river. They can also perform special operations to include any military maneuvers supporting the Iraqi army.
In the future, the BRPTC looks to add more courses that focus on advanced GPS navigation, underwater search and recovery and crime scene fundamentals, such as evidence collection techniques.
For now, Laith, the school's chief instructor, is proud BRPTC is a representation of Iraq's future as Sunnis, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Muslims are working together for the common good.
"We are one country under one flag," said Laith, referred to the school's unity. "Our goal is to protect the Iraqi people and build the new Iraq."
Small contribution from Maj. Bob Owen.
|Date Posted:||04.02.2010 07:47|
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