Story by Spc. Anthony Jones
Even in the face of adverse weather Soldiers of the Iraqi army trained alongside coalition Soldiers in combined strike training on the flight line of Forward Operating Base Normandy, April 8. The training, conducted by the IA's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 20th Battalion, 5th Division and 1st Platoon, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, was performed to keep the Soldiers prepared for their aerial quick reaction force mission, said Capt. Morgan Maier, platoon leader, 1st Platoon.
Due to the adverse weather, heavy clouds, sand and partial rain, a helicopter could not be provided for the static training portion, forcing Soldiers to improvise and use cots to simulate the inside of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
The training included how to safely enter and exit a helicopter while maintaining security. Coalition Soldiers demonstrated how to properly conduct the movement then had the IA Soldiers join in and practice conducting combined entering and exiting.
"This training is important," said Staff Sgt. Caleb Mellette, a squad leader with 1st Platoon. "It builds [the IA's] confidence and allows them to establish their own tactics, training and procedures."
Mellette added that the static training is productive for coalition Soldiers as well, pointing out the language barrier in coordinating movement to and from the helicopter.
As a way to bypass the language barrier the coalition Soldiers taught hand and arm signals to the IA; this allowed for information about movement and security to be passed between Soldiers of both Iraqi and coalition forces easily and quickly.
After completing the static load training, there was another mandatory task: the completion of the house-borne improvised explosive devise lane, operated by a Navy explosive ordinance demolition team.
The IA Soldiers, lead by an Iraqi non-commissioned officer navigated through several stages of the HBIED training complex, finding several hidden IEDs and booby traps.
Once inside the final area of the HBIED trainer the IA Soldiers collected several intelligence items and weapons placed by Navy EOD personnel.
Following the IA's completion of the HBIED training lane, Maier had his Soldiers navigate the lane in order to keep their edge and reinforce previous IED awareness training.
The day of training was completed after a brief demonstration by both IA and coalition Soldiers on room clearing. Both sides were impressed with the others ability to quickly enter and dominate a room.