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Tuesday, 11 January 2011 03:20

Iraqi Army Commandos train to fight | United States Forces - Iraq

Written by Written by Sgt. Chad Menegay, Office of the USF-I Deputy CG for Advising and Training
Iraqi Army Commandos train to fight | United States Forces - Iraq
BAGHDAD — As the Iraqi Army continues to train while fighting an insurgency, battle-tested Soldiers are trained away from the fight to perfect skills for the fight.

As evidence, soldiers with 2nd Company, Commando Battalion, 11th Iraqi Army Division based out of Joint Security Station Old Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, trained in urban operations, entering and clearing a building in a live-fire exercise with guidance from U.S. Army soldiers Dec. 22-23 at Camp Taji.

The live-fire shoot house served as the culminating event of an 18-day counterterrorism course.

Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, advised and assisted in room clearing instruction, urban tactics and fire team exercises.

The live-fire exercises instills confidence in the Iraqi soldiers, and helps to prove what they can do, said U.S. Army Capt. Eric C. Smith, commander of Company B, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, and a Milwaukee, Wis., native.

A number of Iraqi Army soldiers sign up for service, go through a brief basic training and go straight into war, Smith said.

“It’s brutal,” he said. “A lot of these guys have watched their friends die; they’ve fought for years. They don’t get a chance to go home sometimes because the mission calls. This is a vote of confidence to them that, yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel, that they are capable of doing room clearing, it’s confidence.”

Iraqi Army Sgt. Amir Ali Hammad of 2nd Company, Commando Battalion, 11th Iraqi Army Division was shot three times in a 2007 terrorist attack in Ramadi, Iraq. He does not seem deterred and continues to fight the insurgency.

“I will continue to rebuild Iraq, until my last breath I will always keep fighting,” Amir said. “There are a lot of people who need protection. We’ll follow the insurgents everywhere they go.”

The 11th uses its commandos as a maneuver strike element to seize high value targets, such as individuals or weapons caches.

The Iraqi Army is focused on pinpoint surgical operations, Smith said.

“If you don’t have fire teams that are competent, you don’t have squads that are competent, then you don’t have the ability to project force inside a volatile area, such as Baghdad,” Smith said.

The focus then for 1-18th INF, when its soldiers work with Iraqi Army commando elements, is to provide a training foundation from which IA leaders can work from in the future.

“They know a lot about combat,” Smith said. “This unit was capable of clearing or seizing a target before we began training, but we’re providing them a framework within which they understand what it means to train. This is how we do this, building blocks first. We work through marksmanship, short range marksmanship, room clearing at the fire team level, hallways, stairwells, and then you graduate to squad level, and then you start throwing little things in like enemy personnel searches.”

The live-fire shoot house exercise is very important to the Commando Battalion’s mission, Amir said.

The mission is to defend Iraq from evil against all terrorists, capture them and get them to the judge, said Iraqi Army Sgt. Hasan Ali Ashour, an instructor with 2nd Company, Commando Battalion, 11th Iraqi Army Division.

“Terrorists destroy any neighborhood they go to,” Hasan said. “A lot of families have been hurt and displaced. The important thing is for security and safety for local nationals. When we provide the security and safety for people, then they will start working with us.”

Soldiers of the 11th Commandos said that they are like a family, even though they come from different backgrounds from different parts of Iraq.

“Even if we are from different provinces, when we’re working as a team, we’re all one hand,” Hasan said. “Our team is an example to other people in Iraq of how people can come together for the betterment of our country; we’re one hand to rebuild Iraq. We defend our country; we are the eye on Iraq. We have a hand like steel; we have to beat anybody to defend the country. We will continue fighting for the Iraqi people, because Iraq is in our blood.”
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