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U.S. paratroopers, Iraqi soldiers begin using new rifle range

September 14, 2011

By Staff Sgt. Nancy Lugo, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs

RAMADI, Iraq, Sept. 14, 2011 -- On the morning of Sept. 10, paratroopers set up a table on a small rise over looking the Anbar Operations Center's new 25-meter firing range in Ramadi, Iraq. They were loading rounds into magazines and stacking them in precise rows, filling the table with ammo.

The paratroopers grinned as they added to the growing pile preparing to fire the first rounds with their Iraqi counterparts at the new range facility.

"This is the christening of the range," said Lt. Col. Jeffery R. Allen, the chief of staff adviser to the Anbar Operations Center, or AOC, with the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade.

Need for a new range became evident when Allen, was taken on a tour of the facilities. They had a small range, only able to fit four men, which had become eroded and overgrown. Dirt had been built up to wall off the range and contain stray rounds. Tall grass was growing out of mounds of dirt that had broken loose, making the range even smaller.

Allen saw an opportunity to improve training; there was room to make a bigger range, he said.

"There were no issues getting help from the Iraqi Security Force and U.S. forces to build," Allen said.

The light engineer platoon with 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the 2/82, was able to build the range in about two weeks, working at night to avoid Iraq's blistering afternoon temperatures.

"The range is within a hundred meters of the Iraqi barracks so they could shoot everyday to maintain their proficiency," said Allen.

Iraqi and American Soldiers fired a variety of weapons, from machine guns to pistols.

Chief of staff for the AOC, Brig. Gen. Nour Al Din, said the new, larger range would allow more Iraqi soldiers to train more often, improving their familiarity with the weapons.

"When we first arrived, they were extremely limited with range capabilities," said Maj. Phillip E. Hall, a member of the 2/82's stability transition team.

"With the help of the Iraq Army Support Battalion and Brigade Special Troops Battalion, in a short amount of time we have increased their capabilities from four lanes to 24 lanes. It is my belief that with improved range capability the Iraq army here at the AOC will increase the speed at which they can now train their soldiers," said Hall.

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