By Pfc. April Campbell, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 23, 2007 - Iraqi security forces took another step toward self-sufficiency when several Iraqi security elements participated in a civil defense drill in Yarmouk, an area in the Mansour district of western Baghdad, Oct. 20. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion "Falcons," 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, as well as policemen from three Iraqi police stations and firefighters from the Yarmouk fire department planned and executed the drill. The different security elements reacted to two simulated car bomb explosions in a populated area.
The 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (Task Force Patriot), along with a Military Transition Team with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, helped to coach the different elements.
"We proposed the idea several months ago," said Lt. Col. Michael J. Lawson, the commander of Task Force Patriot. "Then, the Iraqi army took the lead in planning the drill, along with the Iraqi police and the local fire department."
While coalition forces helped guide the Iraqi security forces, the Iraqis were in charge of planning and executing the drill.
"The drill enabled the Iraqis to develop an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem," Lawson said. "Reacting to (vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices) is something that they will have to be able to do."
The exercise allowed the different response elements to understand each others' roles, as well as how they fit into the bigger picture.
"The most important gain happened in the area of coordination between all the (security forces)," said Iraqi Army Col. Ali Fadil, commander of the Falcon Battalion. "It is not just the work of (the Falcon Battalion). There is a much bigger force involved in controlling events other than just the Iraqi army."
Different sectors of the local police and fire departments will be interacting with the Iraqi army to coordinate a response to such a terrorist attack, Fadil added.
Emergency response drills like this also may help to increase the quality of life for the citizens of Baghdad. Enabling the different organizations to work together can help them develop a more systematic approach to their emergency planning.
"If (a terrorist attack) happens, (the citizens) can see that the fire department will come here and do this, the police will do this, and the Iraqi army will be doing (its) part," said Capt. Gregory Wooton, military training team executive officer and civil military officer advisor, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment. "They'll start seeing who's responsible for what."
Through this type of training effort, Wooton said, the Iraqi emergency response agencies can learn to coordinate with each other, and Iraqi citizens can gain confidence in the quality of their civil service agencies.
(Army Pfc. April Campbell is assigned to the 27th Public Affairs Detachment.)