By Army 2nd Lt. Andrew Mark
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 8, 2008 - As Iraqi security forces across northwestern Baghdad's Kadhamiyah district continue to take the lead in securing the local population, the effort of improving their skills continues simultaneously. Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, spend many mornings honing the basic rifle marksmanship skills of the local police force in Kadhamiyah.
By focusing on these fundamentals, the policemen are acquiring the ability to use their weapons effectively, and their leaders are learning the techniques to plan for their subordinates' activities, said Army Staff Sgt. Michael Calderaro, platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. Their willingness to learn, particularly after a successful day of training, is obvious in their work, he noted.
"Each day, they bring an enthusiasm to the training that will enable them to get out on the streets and do what needs to be done to provide a safer community for the people of Kadhamiyah," Calderaro said.
The police station in Kadhamiyah is the hub of police activity here in the dense, urban neighborhoods surrounding the Shrine of the Imam Muza Kazim, a predominantly Shiite enclave that also is a political focal point in Baghdad.
Their primary mission will be to search vehicles during the religious ceremonies that draw millions of people each year to Kadhamiyah and to investigate criminal activity in the area and serve as traffic control officers.
The importance of this mission is what drives Lt. Col. Jasim, the commander of the police force, to seek every training opportunity available and to develop an effective partnership with coalition forces.
"Partnering with the coalition forces will allow us to better mentor our policemen in the basics," said Jasim, who added he has observed a remarkable transformation in the once-raw recruits.
"They know their weapons and the fundamentals of conducting checkpoints and searches," said Jasim, though he did acknowledge this process still is a work in progress.
Army Sgt. Jay Gillam, with Company D, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, is responsible for leading instruction in basic rifle marksmanship.
"These guys are able because they are eager to learn," Gillam said. "They continue to improve with each training block we teach them."
The rapport between the soldiers and the Iraqi police officers is impressive, which was clear as Army Sgt. Spencer Arnold, who serves with Company D, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, entertained the group through an interpreter and laughter broke out after the translation.
Despite the differences in their backgrounds, the common goal of securing their respective neighborhoods has united these men in ways neither might have imagined.
"We want them to succeed," Arnold said. "With their ongoing partnership, the security situation in Kadhamiyah can only grow more successful by the day."
(Army 2nd Lt. Andrew Mark serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.)