Irak — Paratroopers teach Iraqis to call fire from sky

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (Army News Ser­vice, June 3, 2010) — Amer­i­can para­troop­ers taught Iraqi sol­diers how to call in fire from armed heli­copters to neu­tral­ize tar­gets in a live-fire exer­cise here, May 21.

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter
Iraqi scouts with 27th Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Divi­sion, watch an OH-58D Kiowa War­rior heli­copter fly over­head as they take part in a live-fire train­ing exer­cise dur­ing which they are learn­ing to call in fire from heli­copters at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 21. The train­ing was con­duct­ed by 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion.
Source: US Army
Click to enlarge

Fire sup­port spe­cial­ists with 1st Brigade, 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion (Advise and Assist), trained scouts with the Iraqi Army on how to inte­grate air and ground forces by call­ing in rock­et and machine-gun fire on ground tar­gets from OH-58D Kiowa War­rior heli­copters oper­at­ed by pilots of Task Force Saber, Com­bat Avi­a­tion Brigade, 1st Infantry Divi­sion.

Inte­grat­ing air and ground assets is a core com­pe­ten­cy for a stand­ing army, said Maj. Dou­glas Hayes, oper­a­tions offi­cer for 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 319th Air­borne Field Artillery Reg­i­ment, the pri­ma­ry artillery com­po­nent of 1/82 AAB.

“An army first and fore­most needs to pro­tect its bor­ders against exter­nal threats,” said Hayes. “This starts to build the foun­da­tion of a capa­bil­i­ty that they have not had, at least for a while — (to) under­stand the pro­ce­dures for mark­ing their loca­tion and that of the tar­get, and how to con­vey that to air­craft.”

Twelve IA scouts and their pla­toon leader, 2nd Lt. Moham­mad, all from 27th Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Divi­sion, based in near­by Bagh­da­di, com­plet­ed two days of class­room train­ing pri­or to the live-fire exer­cise, said Staff Sgt. James Gio­van­ni, non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer in charge of the train­ing.

The Kiowa heli­copters fired rock­ets and .50 cal­iber machine guns in dozens of runs at a fir­ing range tar­get just out­side Al Asad Air Base, in day­light and dark, said Gio­van­ni.

Moham­mad, who once served in intel­li­gence in Saddam’s army, said that, with Amer­i­can sup­port, the Iraqi army was gain­ing com­pe­ten­cy at an accel­er­at­ed rate.

OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter
fc. Robert Nichols, with 558th Mil­i­tary Police Com­pa­ny, 728th MP Bat­tal­ion, 8th MP Brigade, marks a tar­get for an approach­ing OH-58D Kiowa War­rior heli­copter dur­ing a part­nered train­ing exer­cise to teach for­ward observ­er skills to Iraqi army scouts at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 21. Cur­rent­ly attached to 1st Brigade, 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion (Advise and Assist), the 558th is based in Schofield Bar­racks, Hawaii.
Source: US Army
Click to enlarge

“The army was very strong under Sad­dam, but Sad­dam was no good,” said Moham­mad. “It will take 20 years to build our army as strong as Saddam’s with­out Amer­i­can sup­port, but with the Amer­i­cans, it is tak­ing far less time.”

Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Moon, tar­get­ing NCO for 1st Bat­tal­ion, 504th Para­chute Infantry Reg­i­ment, one of 1/82 AAB’s two infantry bat­tal­ions, said that train­ing a for­eign army was actu­al­ly good for his junior Sol­diers.

“We have guys here from Bra­vo and Char­lie Com­pa­ny fire sup­port teams who are very expe­ri­enced con­trol­ling air­craft, both in-the­ater and in train­ing in the rear,” said Moon. “It’s a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for them to teach what they know.”

Once an observ­er-con­troller at the Nation­al Train­ing Cen­ter at Fort Irwin, Calif., Moon said the train­ing here close­ly fol­lowed Army doc­trine.

“The train­ing out here is real­ly quite good,” he said. “Incor­po­rat­ing Iraqis into the train­ing actu­al­ly makes the train­ing bet­ter for our guys because it makes them have to teach and explain through the inter­preters. They have to be very clear and con­cise.”

“It real­ly makes them step up and not make any mis­takes in their instruc­tions,” he said.

The Iraqi scouts were engaged in the exer­cise and asked many ques­tions, said Sgt. Max Lewis, a for­ward observ­er with 1–504th PIR.

“Today, we taught them how to prop­er­ly con­duct five-line [call for fire] pro­ce­dures; the dif­fer­ent types of mark­ings for friend­ly and ene­my posi­tions for both day and night­time,” said Lewis, who was on his third deploy­ment with the Army.

“This is the first time I’ve ever worked with a nation­al army of the coun­try I deployed to. It’s been real­ly good for me too,” he said.

Dur­ing the train­ing, 27th IA Brigade com­man­der, staff Brig. Gen. Adnon Aubaid Mushin Rashid, called Moham­mad to check on his platoon’s progress and to ensure the lieu­tenant had kept all the train­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion for future ref­er­ence, said Moham­mad.

“We are very proud to be here,” said Cpl. Khalid Hamed al Abay­di, a four-year vet­er­an with the brigade, from Hit.

“My goal is to fight the ter­ror­ists, even if I risk my life,” said Khalid. “I want to live in peace. We want to feel like human beings, like peo­ple do in oth­er coun­tries.”

The over­all mis­sion for 1/82 AAB, as nest­ed with Unit­ed States Divi­sion — Cen­ter, is to advise and assist the Iraqi army in all aspects of pro­fes­sion­al­iza­tion, said Hayes.

Air-ground inte­gra­tion is a capa­bil­i­ty that’s need­ed for an army to con­tin­ue to grow and to suc­ceed, he said.

“That’s why we’re here,” said Hayes, “to help them out with that.”

(Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod writes for 1/82 AAB, USD-C)

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)