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Insurgent weapons helping arm Iraqi forces

By Pfc. Joshua R. Ford

BAGHDAD (Army News Service, Nov. 14, 2005) -- Some might ask why the U.S. forces are refurbishing old enemy weapons, and the answer is: the AK-47s are being used to arm the Iraqi Army, police and security forces, putting the insurgents weapons to use against insurgents.

When the Iraqi Police were being put together, they were short on weaponry and this program is solving the shortage problem, said Chief Warrant Officer Pedro Munoz, armament and repair technician, 3rd Forward Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. His unit’s armory was recently refurbished 88 AK-47 automatic rifles.

It saved the Iraqis money, since they didn’t need to buy new AK-47s, said Spc. Philipp Arthur, small arms repairman, 3rd FSB, 1st Bde., 3rd Inf. Div.

Putting caches to better use

Explosives ordinance disposal teams, U.S. military patrols and civilian contractors find enemy weapons caches and the proper authority will bring the weapons found in the cache to the arms shop for repair, Munoz said.

“I don’t see why we should destroy the weapons we find when we can easily arm the Iraqi forces with those weapons,” Arthur said.

“In helping them we are helping ourselves because the program is saving the U.S. and the IA money and bringing the country one step closer to being self-sufficient,” Munoz said.

“We were actually trained by a Special Forces unit at Forward Operating Base Danger,” Munoz said. “They gave us a base on how to approach the Iraqis and at what level we can train them.”

“We used the Special Forces training and trained the Iraqis how to professionally clean, operate and maintain the weapon systems they use,” Arthur added. “We also taught them basic skills that all U.S. Soldiers should know.”

No more cleaning with kerosene

“Before our training the Iraqis were cleaning their weapons with gasoline and kerosene which helps the weapon acquire more dirt and deteriorates the metal the weapon is made out of,” Arthur said.

“The Iraqis have taught us just as much as we taught them during training,” Munoz said.

Some of the things the Iraqis taught the arms workers were how to look for booby traps on AK-47s and how to disassemble the weapons faster.

“I never thought I would be working on these weapon systems when I arrived here,” Arthur said.

Armorers fix other Soviet weapons

AK-47s are not the only foreign weapons the armorers have had to fix. They also work on the RPK, SKS and PKS weapon systems.

The 3rd FSB arms room Soldiers have fixed hundreds of weapons the Iraqi forces are using today, Arthur said.

The first time the Soldiers were tasked with this mission an explosive ordnance disposal team brought 453 foreign weapon systems to the 3rd FSB armory. Of these 420 of them were fixable.

“Sometimes you can fix most of the weapons; other times you can only fix some of them. It all depends on the condition the weapons are in when you receive them,” Arthur added.

“Cross-training everyone in the shop has helped out a lot,” said Spc. Evan Lewis, fire control repairman, 3rd FSB.

Lewis works on tank weapons systems, but since he was cross- trained, he has been able to help with training the Iraqi army.

It feels good to take weapons out of insurgent’s hands and put them into play against them, Lewis said.

(Editor’s note: Pfc. Joshua R. Ford serves with the Multi-National Corps–Iraq Public Affairs Office.)

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