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Panther brigade sharpens IA skills

Jul 30, 2009

By Pvt. Jared N. Gehmann, 3rd BCT PAO, 82nd Abn. Div., MND-B

BAGHDAD - After five long days of intense training and battling a pair of fierce sandstorms, more than 20 Iraqi Army Soldiers can now say they are graduates of Combat Outpost Carver's "Cold Steel Training Academy," July 29.

U.S. Paratroopers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, established the week-long academy to advise and mentor their 45th Iraqi Army partners on their combat abilities. The academy also set the conditions for Iraqi Soldiers to continue maintaining security in the outline areas of Salman Pak, a southeastern suburb of Baghdad.

"This five-day training program is in place to better equip Iraqi soldiers for combat in the field through the execution of different combat training exercises each day," said Spc. Cesar Lopez, of Miami, a Cold Steel academy instructor and combat medic assigned to Company A, 1st Bn., 505th PIR.

Lopez said the academy trains IA soldiers in a series of classes such as leadership classes, basic rifle marksmanship with an M-16 rifle, reflexive fire classes, how to react to an improvised explosive devices, proper tactics on how to search and clear rooms, preventative medicine classes, and a combat life-saving course.

"Today was the last day of training in which we taught the Iraqi soldiers combat-life saving techniques," said Lopez. "We showed them how to fix a hemorrhage in a person's airway, how to treat shock and how to apply pressure dressings and tourniquets."

"When a Soldier knows what he is doing it makes him want to be a part of the team and that really helps with morale but more importantly it helps the overall strength of the unit in the long run," Lopez added.

Iraqi Army Soldier and the academy's honor graduate, Wessan Abass, said that the training helped him tremendously.

"My favorite part of the training was the leadership courses because they not only help me as a Soldier, but they can help me in my everyday life as well," said Abass.

Abass said he also enjoyed his experience qualifying on the range with the M-16.

"I have rarely shot with an M-16, I definitely have more experience with the AK-47" he said. "I learned a lot from the American Soldiers, and had fun. Overall, I think that the training was definitely worth the time and energy, and I look forward to working with them [U.S. Soldiers] again in the future."

Company A troopers are already preparing for the next cycle of training, which is set to begin in the coming days, inside the walls of their dusty and sometimes sandy combat outpost.

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