By Cpl. Billy Hall, USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 7, 2008 - Iraqi soldiers are learning to fight and win on the battlefield thanks to the efforts of U.S. Marines here. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, not only are engaged in a constant training cycle with Marines at Combat Outpost North here, but also are excelling at it.
In the brisk winter breeze, Military Transition Team members partnered with Marines from Weapons Company, Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, integrated key Iraqi soldiers into their execution of several reactionary drills.
The Iraqi soldiers observed and then participated in immediate-action and break-contact drills with the Marines so they could, in turn, teach their junior soldiers the same tactics and procedures.
"It's very important to integrate our training," said Marine Staff Sgt. Charles D. Cox, a section leader for Weapons Company. "If we don't integrate, and it comes time for us to do a joint operation, not everyone will be on the same sheet of music. Should something happen, everyone needs to know how to react."
Training side by side while stationed together at Combat Outpost North, the Marines and Iraqi soldiers interact daily.
"The closer we live, the faster they learn and the better they pick up on our techniques," said Marine Cpl. Aaron Missey, a squad leader with Weapons Company. "It's only a matter of time until we can all go home, and they can be secure in the fact that they have enough knowledge to stand on their own against oppressive forces."
The Iraqi soldiers at Combat Outpost North have gained the respect and admiration of their Marine comrades and continue to excel at their training.
"These guys we had out here did exceptionally well," Cox said. "They were hand-picked by their company as some of their best shooters and top (noncommissioned officers). Now it's on them to go back to show the rest of their men and teach them how to use these procedures."
The Marines consistently observe the progress and proficiency of the Iraqi soldiers, confirming the effectiveness of the training they undergo.
"The following days after an (enhanced marksmanship program), we could tell that they continued to practice while we were away," Missey noted. "We're not just firing off blank rounds. The things that we're teaching them in training, they're actually incorporating into their military tactics."
After a hard day's training, the Iraqi soldiers were pleased with the new techniques and tactics they learned from the MTT.
"The training was very good, very useful," one of the soldiers said. "We're 100 percent happy."
(Marine Cpl. Billy Hall is a combat correspondent serving with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2.)