Story by: Staff Sgt. Jeff Hansen
BAGHDAD, Iraq — American officers at Joint Security Station Doura have been working diligently to assist the Iraqi Security Forces in their training, operational planning and leadership skills.
As part of the transition, ISF officers work alongside U.S. Army officers during patrols and day to day operations to observe and interpret U.S. operations.
2nd Lt. Sam Burrow, a platoon leader assigned 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, has been part of the Iraqi officer shadow program for more than two months now. He said he is impressed with the way the program has been working.
"We teach them our way of doing things. It gives them the option to use our techniques in their day to day operations," said Burrow, a native of Edenton, N.C. He added that several Iraqi junior officers have taken part in this program.
Iraqi 1st Lt. Abbas Lateef, a platoon leader assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Security Brigade, 2nd Federal Police Division, shadowed Burrow during a security patrol outside of JSS Doura, Dec. 29.
Lateef was part of the planning process, mission execution and after action review, which Burrow said is essential to junior officers' experience. He stated the best way for ISF junior leaders to become more efficient is to be hands on with operations.
"Prior to going out, we discuss operational security, establishing 360 degree [security] perimeters and targeting high value individuals," explained Burrow.
Burrow added that this is the most efficient way for junior officers to learn, as only so much can be absorbed from a classroom environment. In this one on one situation, ISF officers have plenty of opportunities to ask any questions as they arise.
During the patrol, Burrow and Lateef met with leaders of the Kurdish Specialized Presidential Guard, whose area of operations is in the vicinity of JSS Doura. Local leaders provided information on water points in the area and advised the junior officers how to utilize those points for future joint operations.
Spc. John Stricklin said most of his unit's missions are focused on improving the quality of life for the Iraqi people.
"That's what we're here for, to help the populace establish a good infrastructure," said Stricklin, a native of Laurinburg, N.C.
Burrow said his ISF counterpart gained leadership experience and established rapport with local military leaders. He also stated that the experience goes both ways.
"I've learned a lot from the Iraqis, and I hope they've learned a lot from me," Burrow said.