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Coalition soldiers train Iraqi Armed Forces to join fight

Army News Service

Release Date: 4/5/2004

By Spc. Aaron Ritter

TAL AFAR, Iraq (Army News Service, April 5, 2004) -- Iraqi Armed Forces soldiers are quickly learning, with the assistance of coalition forces, what type of training is required to become an effective fighting force.

The Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, working in northern Iraq, is made up of 10 Soldiers from the 75th Infantry Division from Texas. The soldiers all volunteered to serve as advisers and liaison officers to ensure that Iraqi soldiers will be prepared to effectively support security operations in the region.

The CMATT team, the first of its kind in this region, is currently working with soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, Iraqi Armed Forces in Tal Afar at a recently renovated military facility referred to as the "The Castle." The Castle, formerly a prison, has been converted to a military barracks housing the 3rd Battalion.

The team advises Iraqi military leadership at Tal Afar, ensuring an effective training program for the IAF soldiers. Directed by IAF leadership, with the assistance of CMATT trainers, Iraqi soldiers learn how to conduct several critical tasks and battle drills including how to react to direct fire and improvised explosive devices, close-quarter combat, tactical movements on patrols and weapons training. Basic discipline and effective physical training standards are also emphasized.

Maj. Mohammed Abed Yousif, commander of 2nd Company, 3rd Battalion, IAF, said that the training has given the Iraqi soldiers an advantage and has given them confidence in their abilities to perform as soldiers who will be responsible for the safety and security of this country in the coming weeks.

"Our training gives us the opportunity to learn from the mistakes before they may happen when we are actually battling the terrorists," he said.

Maj. Robert Chandler Jr., CMATT Battalion Advisory Support Team Chief, said the soldiers are learning lessons and concepts that are foreign to them. Many have never been in the army, or served in the army years ago under the former regime.

"Now, they're learning how to do things more efficiently, as opposed to what I call the 'old doctrine,' where company commanders and officers ran the whole show," Chandler said. "All of the soldiers are learning a valuable lesson - that the officers make the decisions and the NCOs make it happen."

"They are very enthusiastic about the training and eager to learn new and better ideas," said Capt. Dennis Swanson, a CMATT observer-controller overseeing the training curriculum. "Training is all they've been doing and they are improving every day, not only in discipline, but the noncommissioned officers are stepping up and training their fellow soldiers."

The 3rd Battalion soldiers will be conducting operations alongside soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) in the coming months. This training will aid in the transfer of responsibility as the Iraqi soldiers assume duties ensuring Iraq's security.

(Editor's note: Aaron Ritter is a staff writer for the Task Force Olympia Public Affairs Office.)

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