By Staff Sgt. W. Wayne Marlow
2nd Brigade Combat Team , 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq – Just a few months ago, Soldiers with the 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division had few supplies and not even any shelves to organize the few they did have.
But when Lt. Col. William R. McDonough, commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), toured 1-9's facilities at Al Rasheed, July 28, he immediately noticed the improvements.
"The last time I was here, supplies were just piled on the floor," McDonough told the assembled Soldiers on his tour. "Now, it's very organized. You guys have done a good job."
But the improvements go way beyond shelf space. For four months, BSB Soldiers drilled their Iraqi counterparts on transportation, maintenance, and medical issues.
"Everything melded," said Maj. Patrick Rose of Boise, Idaho, operations officer for BSB's S3 section. "They worked with them and this led to the culminating event, where they were tested on all three areas."
The efforts of Iraqi soldiers were recognized at a ceremony at Al Rasheed, with McDonough presenting patches to those who successfully completed the training.
Now the Iraqis will take that knowledge and share it with their fellow Soldiers. Rose thinks they are ready to be trainers.
"They surprised us a lot," he said. "We didn't think they'd get so far so fast. Our medics helped them out with those procedures and they had to learn the system for getting supplies. At first, there was absolutely no organization, whether it was medical or maintenance."
Rose hopes the patch ceremony will serve as a springboard to better things.
"In the next three months we're going to build on the training we've already done, but we're going to put Iraqis in the lead. The big task will be convoy security and securing assets" he said. "The patches serve as a motivator for them to take the lead in training. With them, a lot of it has to do with status."
Staff Sgt. Anthony Brooks, supply adviser from Birmingham, Ala., with Company D, 101st Forward Support Battalion, agreed that the Iraqis have come a long way.
"At first, we had to convince them to forecast supplies," he said. "They ran out of things before they ordered more, which would then take two months. Now, they do it automatically."
Brooks has seen other improvements as well. "The main thing is they way they maintain their area. They police themselves a lot better," he said.
The quality and quantity of supplies has been upgraded, too. "At first, all they had here were barrels of oil," Brooks said. "Now they have tools. We convinced them to get some supplies down here from Taji, and we are able to do a lot more maintenance."