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3rd AAB, 4th Inf. Div. assists with first-ever Al-Tadreeb Al-Shamil course in Nasiriyah

Feb 1, 2011

By Maj. Alan S. Brown, 3rd AAB, 4th Inf. Div., Public Affairs Office

NASIRIYAH, Iraq-- Twenty-four and a wake up-with emphasis on the final wake up.

That's how a young Iraqi soldier might refer to the "Al-Tadreeb Al-Shamil," or all-inclusive training, being conducted at the newly built 10th Iraqi Army Training Center at Camp Dhi Qar just outside Nasiriyah.

The final wake up for 654 members of 1st Battalion, 40th Brigade, 10th Iraqi Army Division, came Jan. 24, as they graduated from the new regimen designed to help the Iraqi army strengthen and sustain itself after the U.S. advise, train and assist mission is complete.

Advisors and trainers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, worked closely with the 10th IA Division leadership to develop both the training center and the curriculum.

This training concept is not new, as the U.S. Army has incorporated something similar for decades. The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., allow senior maneuver commanders to train their units on a variety of complex tasks and to conduct an overall assessment of combat capability.

The graduation ceremony involved speeches by leaders from the 40th Brigade, ceremonial readings and the customary exchange of gifts.

Brig. Gen. William Smith, deputy commanding general-maneuver, from the 36th Infantry Division, United States Division-South, was on hand to congratulate the Iraqi soldiers for their training success over the previous 24 days.

As a reflection of the enduring partnership and the combined investment in the development of the Iraqi security forces, the 40th Brigade Commander, Staff Brig. Gen. Hamid, invited both Smith and other U.S. advisors to present gifts to battalion leaders and soldiers selected for outstanding performance during the training.

"This is our harvested fruit," said Hamid, during his speech to both guests and soldiers, "and we are determined to continue with the same energy in training the rest of the brigade."

As the first of 12 planned rotations for 2011, one for each battalion in the 10th IA Division, U.S. advisors and trainers facilitated most of the instruction. By design, Iraqi trainers and evaluators will gradually replace U.S. trainers during upcoming rotations and assume sole responsibility in the coming months.

While the training course at Camp Dhi Qar was the only such training iteration in southern Iraq, three other Iraqi divisions conducted identical iterations in central and northern Iraq during January. The synchronous training allows the Iraqi army to share information and lessons learned across the country, making the process more efficient and effective in the future.

Of the four identical courses, units from 3rd AAB, 4th Inf. Div., are currently overseeing two of them. The 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment currently runs the 7th IA Division Training Center at Al Asad Air Base.

With oversight from the highest levels of the Iraqi army, the all-inclusive training enables Iraqi battalion commanders to train on individual and unit-level tasks, and assess their units' strengths and weaknesses.

The battalion commander of the first unit to go through Camp Dhi Qar said he felt very satisfied with the results.

"The training was successful at all levels as well as the interaction with the teachers, whether they were from the Iraqi side or from our friends' side," said Col. Hussein, commander, 1st Bn., 40th Bde.

Lt. Col. David Walker, the transition team chief, responsible for advising the 10th IA Division at the training center in Nasiriyah, said this exercise is a first for the Iraqi unit.

"It provides the battalion commander the opportunity to have all of his soldiers and equipment in the same location at the same time. That's something they don't get the opportunity to do," he said.

The training iteration is divided into four phases. Phase one provides familiarization with individual soldier skills like first aid, radio communication, land navigation, hand grenades and individual movement techniques.

While most soldiers have already been trained on these skills, the first phase allows soldiers to re-familiarize with tasks they may not be performing regularly.

Phases two and three combine those individual tasks into team, squad and platoon-level exercises, which require greater planning, coordination and teamwork.

The entire course culminates with company-level, live-fire exercises, where leaders must coordinate multiple weapon systems and complex movement techniques. These types of exercises best simulate combat conditions and offer the best assessment of combat readiness.

Walker said that Al-Tadreeb Al-Shamil provides Iraqi commanders a training platform they can continue to build on.

"The point of this training is to help them establish a sustainable training program," he said, emphasizing that the 25-day rotation is extremely valuable to the battalion staff, responsible for developing future training plans.

Providing enduring, standardized systems is a major focus of the U.S. Army's advise, train and assist mission and will be an essential cog in the Iraqi security forces' wheel of sustainability.

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