Iraqi Soldiers Graduate Commando Course
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – Shots rang out as soldiers with 1st Company, Commando Battalion, 7th Iraqi Army Division, celebrated a milestone in their military careers by graduating from a four-week training course aboard Al Asad Air Base, April 10, 2009.
The course was designed by service members with Military Transition Team 7 of Multi National Force – West to help the soldiers hone their combat skills which they will in turn, teach to other Iraqi soldiers.
Robert Wise, a special operations foreign internal defense advisor with MiTT 7, said the soldiers have made remarkable progress in a short time span.
“In the beginning, the soldiers didn’t have a lot of motivation, and their confidence levels and training levels were fairly low,” said Wise, who recently retired from the U.S. military after serving more than 24 years in both the Marine Corps and Army Special Forces. “But today, these guys feel confident in what they can do.”
The soldiers marched onto the field in full formation, drawing the applause of Brig. Gen. Sabbah al-Maliki, deputy commanding general of the 7th IA Division, and service members with the reconnaissance platoon of Regimental Combat Team 8, who assisted with much of the combat skills training. The Iraqi commandos also simulated an assault on a building by providing perimeter security, demonstrating proper room clearing procedures, rescuing mock victims, and capturing role players posing as insurgents.
“They tried to incorporate every aspect of the 30-day training into their demonstration,” said Wise. “They looked good and very professional.”
After some encouraging words from al-Maliki, the soldiers were congratulated by comrades from other companies.
“Now that we have gone through this type of training, I’ve noticed that there is coordination between every single element of this company,” said Capt. Mohammed Sabar Rabia, an intelligence officer with 1st Company, Commando Battalion, 7th IA Division. “They can work together to accomplish a mission.”
Wise said the graduation ceremony was a confidence booster that will encourage the soldiers to continue more advanced training.
“Just like Marines and other military services, you never stop training,” said Wise. “You want to continually get better.”
Wise said the training fostered positive relationships between the Iraqis and Coalition forces, and these past four weeks have been a learning experience for everyone.
“It’s always a good feeling to meet the local personnel and their military because we all share a common bond,” said Wise. “As we teach them our tactics, they give us some insight into their lives, and they teach us a little bit of their tactics at the same time.”
Rabia said he is grateful to the Americans for teaching and mentoring the Commando Battalion, and looks forward to more training.
“I would like to thank the American side for this training opportunity that the battalion has gone through,” said Rabia. “It was very beneficial and we would like to continue training.”
Within days of the graduation ceremony, MiTT-7 kicked off another training course, this time with the assistance of Marines from the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion who will continue to give the Iraqi soldiers the tools, skills, and confidence needed to protect their country and people for years to come.