News: Iraqi mortarmen stand on their own
Story by Sgt. Samantha Simmons
BAGHDAD – An Iraqi class of mortarmen completed their final task before graduation by firing Serbian 120mm mortars into the desolate, sandy plains of QaQa Range southwest of Mamhudiyah, May 11.
The U.S. military role during the field artillery exercise: observe.
Some fields require U.S. forces to closely monitor training exercises, but other fields such as field artillery are demanding little to no assistance, said Staff Sgt. David Daley, a field artillery advisor assigned to the Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission – Army under U.S. Forces – Iraq.
Previously, Daley and his team established a partnership between the Iraqi Field Artillery School and Directorate and 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Division – Center. Instructors from 1st Bn., offered students training in both medical and maintenance fields, which was where students desired the most guidance.
Artillery training was offered as well; however, the Iraqi Army is proficient with their use of Russian and Serbian weaponry, so they declined training with U.S. arms, Daley added.
"They do all of their own training," said Daley, a native of Sacko, Maine. "All we do is oversee and advise."
Staff Sgt. Jerry Asrat, a Sioux Falls, S.D., native and an M-1 Abrams armor crewmember assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st AAB, 3rd Inf. Div., is serving in his fourth deployment and has seen the Iraqi army slowly progress over the years. He said he now sees a competent, capable and professional force that can secure the Iraqi population.
"It's a good feeling seeing them standing on their own," said Asrat. "It's a great accomplishment."
Often, Soldiers attend events like the live-fire exercise merely to show their support for the Iraqi Army and to become familiar with their methods. It's interesting for both sides, enabling them to become more familiar in different types of weaponry and training, said Daley.
"They get to see our culture while we get to see theirs," said Daley.
Daley said U.S. forces get to see how the Iraqi army soldiers utilize their leadership and incorporate training from the past, and the Iraqis get to see how the U.S. Soldiers train.
"It's a really good opportunity for them to take the best of both worlds and apply them to their military," said Daley.
Spc. Thomas Terry, a Hillsborough, Ala., native and an M-1 Abrams armor crewmember assigned to Company D, said every chance he gets, he tries to interact with Iraqi army soldiers, immersing himself in the Iraqi culture to take as much from the deployment as he can.
"I've been here multiple tours and this is my first chance to work in such close proximity to them," said Terry. "I'm looking around, and I'm seeing discipline that I didn't see years ago when I was here."