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    Iraqi Army Chemical Defense Company Exercise to Protect Iraqis From Unexploded Ordnance

    Editor's note: Capt. Clifford D. Latting and Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Hector F. Andrade contributed to this article.

    TAJI, Iraq - The Iraqi Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldier moved slowly among the trash towards the artillery round. He pushed aside the empty plastic water bottles, knelt down, and inspected the discarded round.

    The locals had called it in.

    The soldier, with the Iraqi Army Chemical Defense Company, was one of two platoons of soldiers who performed Weapons of Mass Destruction removal.

    "It is exciting to see how far our platoon has come along in the past few months. There have been times it has been very difficult, but we are making it," said Iraqi Army Sgt. 1st Class Adnan Abdul-Zahraa Jewad, platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon.

    During two scenarios, one in an abandoned building, and another one outside Soldiers removed old chemical rounds that had been dug up by Iraqi citizens. After IA EOD soldiers render the round safe, so they would not explode, the CDC soldiers practiced plugging and covering the leaks with plaster, the type used to set a broken arm, to prevent it from leaking or releasing vapors, said U.S. Army Capt. Clifford D. Latting, IA Chemical Senior Advisor.

    It has been a long and rigorous nine months of training, to get the IA's only CDC become technically proficient, said Iraqi Army Pvt. Haider Kareem Deshar, a chemical specialist.

    "The training has been hard at times, but it has been fun," Deshar said.

    It's been just as rewarding and demanding for the instructors.

    "Training the IA EOD Tech Escort soldiers is very rewarding and it is also exciting to see their skills develop throughout the training," said U.S. Army EOD Tech, Sgt. Peter Fields, from the 22nd Chemical Battalion and an EOD trainer for CRT-2.

    According to a 2009 UNICEF/UNDP report there are "no reliable nation-wide figures" for the number of unexploded ordnances that liter Iraq's landscape.

    However, numerous, pre-1991 Gulf War Iraqi chemical munitions have been discovered in Iraqi since 2004, Latting said. Since 2003 Coalition Forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons and munitions which contain degraded mustard or Sarin nerve agent, according to a statement released by the U.S. House Of Representatives in June 2006

    "Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist," the statement continued.

    "Coalition Forces from the 22nd Chemical Battalion is currently training the CDC on the elimination process of chemical munitions," Latting said. "The CDC is the unit that will eliminate chemical weapons found in Iraqi and will help provide a safe future for the Iraqi citizens."

    The CDC will only be alerted if chemicals are suspected or discovered, Latting said. Once the munitions have been stabilized the Ministries of Defense, Interior, Science Technology, and the Iraq National Monitor Directorate decide where the munitions go next.

    "The reason the mission was such a success was due to the hard work of his [Maj. Amaar Abdulla Aliawi, the CDC company commander] soldiers and Platoon Sergeant, Master Sgt. Zaimer," said Iraqi Army 1st Lt. Wesam Ismail Abed, of 2nd Platoon.

    Aliawi said the CDC, formed in March, performed well during the exercise and demonstrated an aptitude for the fundamentals of weapon elimination which includes site characterization, sealing & packing of the munitions, and decontamination.

    "I feel today's exercise was a success, and I am pleased with the efforts of my soldiers, but I understand that we still have a lot of work ahead," Aliawi said.

    The goal is to have the CDC fully operational by January 2010.

    Ministry of Defense Staff Officer, Brig. Gen. Ali Kadhem Mehasan, Chemical Defense Senior Officer from MoD, visited the CDC training areas to review the progress of the CDC and said future joint missions were "absolutely a possibility."

    "I want CRT-2 and the advisor to keep pushing and challenging the CDC leadership and soldiers. I want them to become as proficient as possible before CRT-2 leaves," said Ali, who also visited with Coalition Forces to discuss the future of the CDC and to thank everyone for their part in making the IA Chemical Defense Corp a part of the Iraqi Armed Forces.



    Date Taken: 07.22.2010
    Date Posted: 07.23.2010 00:54
    Story ID: 53251
    Location: TAJI, IQ 

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