News: IA takes the lead in GWTC training
By 2nd Lt. Joseph Marion
Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment
4th Advise and Assist Brigade, Public Affairs
1st Armored Division, U.S. Division-North
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - Soldiers from Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Armored Division, advised Iraqi army soldiers at the Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center at Contingency Operating Site Marez, Iraq, with their small unit tactical training in September.
Each morning, 400 Iraqi soldiers from 4th Battalion, 9th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division, gathered for a formation on the outskirts of COS Marez. Standing at the position of attention, they waited while their officers and non-commissioned officers conducted last-minute inspections.
The GWTC is a training site for Iraqi army units, located in the northern province of Ninewa. Instruction is provided by members from the Iraqi army. U.S. forces play a minimal role in the training process.
Soldiers from Troop A, 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., provided assistance and security, and also helped with in-processing and ammunition issue and control.
“The first thing we do is watch while the Iraqis conduct their morning inspection,” said Spc. Nathaniel Lang, a soldier with 2nd Platoon, Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cav. Regt. “Afterwards, we follow around the Stability Transition Team members as they observe and assist with the Iraqi training.”
The training conducted at GWTC focuses on company and battalion level training. Iraqi commanders practice and improve their tactics, techniques and procedures, and assess their unit’s capabilities, improving their areas of concern.
“Our goal is to improve how our platoons work during a company level mission,” said Capt. Leay Sabhi Kadhim, a company commander for 4th Battalion, 9th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division.
Kadhim also said he was eager for soldiers to train on the GWTC’s marksmanship ranges.
Units trained one battalion at a time during the 20-day training cycle. During the first portion of the training, Iraqi platoons received instruction on small unit tactics, vehicle maintenance, and intelligence collection.
Later in the cycle, the company came together as one element to practice urban operations, attacks, defenses and ambushes.
“The soldiers are coming together as a unit,” said 1st Lt. Marowan, a platoon leader from 4th Battalion, 9th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division. “We want the units and soldiers to be strong so the enemy cannot defeat them.”
A battalion level live fire marked the culmination of training. The soldiers of 4th Bn., 9th Bde., 3rd IA Div., demonstrated everything learned during their training at the GWTC.
This training cycle was the first to be completely led by 3rd Iraqi Army Division. In the past, U.S. forces played an active role in the training conducted at the GWTC. Now the training is planned and implemented by a dedicated team of Iraqi army officers and NCOs.
“The training is going well,” said Lt. Col. Hemad, chief of training for Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center and Iraqi army leader. “We are holding the soldiers to a high standard and they are very well disciplined.”
The Iraqi trainers at GWTC are veterans of the Iraqi army, chosen for this assignment based by their performance during daily operations and previous training rotations.
“The trainers are on point; they enforce discipline and standards,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Harrison, a soldier from 2nd Platoon, Troop A, 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt. “They’re tactically competent and teach the most current tactics, techniques, and procedures.”
Iraqi leadership at the training center received coaching and mentoring from members of the squadron’s STT.
“We’re here to provide the advisors with any assistance they might need,” said Maj.Scott McGrath, deputy STT chief assigned to 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Armored Division. “So far, they’ve done an excellent job at stepping up and making this training their own.”
The transition from a U.S.-led training center to one led completely by the Iraqi army is a significant step for the GWTC as U.S. forces in Iraq reposture, said Deuble.
“We are confident that the GWTC will remain an important part of [the] Iraqi army,” he said. “The Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center will be an enduring mark of success for the Iraqi army as they transition to training for higher level operations.”
The efforts of the soldiers from Saber Squadron and the Iraqi army are a good measure of our success in Iraq, and the future of this democracy, said Harrison.
“When I watch these Iraqis train, it makes our efforts [here] seem worthwhile. You can see how we’ve made a difference.”