News: Leadership Academy Trains Iraqi army, police and coalition forces
Story by Pfc. Benjamin Fox
By Pfc. Ben Fox
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
BAQUBAH, Iraq - The "Grey Wolf" Leadership Academy on Forward Operating Base Gabe, Baqubah, Iraq, is run by Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and the students are a mix of Iraqi army, Iraqi police and coalition force soldiers.
The academy consists of a seven-day course, with a graduation ceremony on the eighth day. Classes in the course are both classroom and hands on, to include leadership, first aid, marksmanship and defensive position training.
"The sole purpose was to teach them how to fight together as a team, and then have them take what they have learned in this course and start using it with the rest of the people in their units," said Staff Sgt. Jeff Young, an instructor at the course and a native of Lockhart, Texas.
Young said the students seemed to perform best at the range.
"The IA and IP seemed like they did better with the hands on stuff," he said.
Out in the range, the students trained on marksmanship, reflexive fire, buddy team fire and a squad live fire.
"It let them understand how to control their fires, instead of just shooting as fast as they can," said Young. "It also helped them understand how to take cover - to move as an element and to attack in a decisive way."
Staff Sgt. James Evans was in charge of the ranges during the course.
The ranges taught the students accuracy instead of suppression, which conserves ammunition, said Evans. The ranges gave them the confidence to say "I can defend this," he said.
Iraqi security forces aren't trained as well in marksmanship as American Soldiers, so the marksmanship and reflexive fire were crucial skills for them to learn, said Sgt. 1st Class Norbert Foley, another instructor at the course.
"With the buddy teams and reflexive fire, they walk away with the idea that you can shoot one round, and still be effective," said Foley.
Young said the students showed the potential to be able to pass on their skills while down at the ranges.
"They were correcting each other out at the range," said Young. "If they are correcting somebody when they see them doing it wrong, there is better chance that they will put that into use when they get back to their units."
"The key is that whatever small part they learned, they take it and pass it on," said Foley.
The students learned more than just firing techniques, said Evans. The live fire, defense scenario of the academy taught them that situations can change quickly.
"You can be doing one thing and automatically, on a moments notice, be prepared to defend," said Evans.
To get the students more comfortable with each other, there was a bonfire every night where the Iraqi students would dance and sing traditional songs with the American Soldiers occasionally joining in.
After a few nights, the Americans began to sing their own songs to the Iraqis, creating friendly competition between the two groups.
The bonfires were an important part of creating unity between the three different groups of students, said Young.
"It is important not only to train them up on tactics, but it's also good to get them working together," he said.
"Gathering around the bonfire every night, we learn a little bit about their culture, they learn a little about ours, and we get to know each other on a more personal level," said Spc. Michael Barbosa, an American student in the course who could be seen every night at the bonfire learning Arabic and having conversations with the Iraqis.
The bonfires and social interactions were also important for the IP and IA to learn to trust each other, since they often have to work together on missions, said Barbosa.
"If they are 'on the same sheet of music,' I think operations will go a lot smoother," he said.