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Marines teach Iraqis humvee maintenance

22 Mar 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Marines are making knuckle-busting, wrench-turners out of Iraqi soldiers.

Marine from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment working with Regimental Combat Team 5, are teaching Iraqis the in’s and out’s of humvee maintenance. 

Mechanics from the battalion’s Headquarters and Support Company are training Iraqi Army soldiers on maintenance and operations for humvees. The Iraqi soldiers received their new humvees less than a week ago.

“We are teaching the Iraqis the basics,” said Sgt. Laurice Kelly, a 36-year-old motor transport operations chief from Copperscove, Texas. “We are teaching basic maintenance and functions of the humvee.”

Marines designed a down-and-dirty two-week course week, including evasive driving techniques. It’s a grease-under-the-fingernails, oil-stained session to get the Iraqi soldiers prepared to take out their new humvees.

“I took them out to a mile-and-a-half course here on Camp Fallujah and taught them how to drive in sand and on the hardball,” Kelly said. “Most of the Iraqis are very good drivers and picked it up quickly.”

Kelly and his fellow instructors tied-in the training with realistic scenarios, including hard braking during emergency stops.

“Once they had the concepts of the driving techniques, I showed them how to stop using both the brakes and the gears to slow down,” Kelly explained.

Iraqi soldiers already came with some of their own know-how.  All had time turning wrenches before they crawled under the vehicles.

“The men chosen for the course already had some mechanical experience,” said Iraqi 2nd Lt. Raad Marda Idan, a 34-year-old transportation platoon commander with the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division. “But the skills they are learning in this course are very important.”

The second week of the training covered the major things the Iraqis need to know in order to keep the humvees running, Kelly said.

“We cover in a little more depth, the fluids that need to be changed and other maintenance issues that should be checked on a regular basis,” he said.

One of the toughest challenges the Marines encountered during the course was the language barrier. Two Iraqi officers aided in bridging the gap, but instructions were short and concise, making it easy to understand.

“Not speaking their language and them not speaking ours is definitely the hardest obstacle we have in the class,” said Cpl. Nicholas R. Campbell, a 23-year-old maintenance chief from Allen, S.D.

Another obstacle was the conversion from English measurements to metric, of which the Iraqis are accustomed.

“Converting quarts and gallons to liters is the main issue we hit today,” said Cpl. Christopher L. Gaytan, a 21-year-old mechanic from Garland, Texas. “We want to make sure that they understand the right levels to put in the humvees so that they can properly maintain them.”

Marines knew the effort they put in to teaching the Iraqi soldiers brought them one step closer to being self-sufficient.

“We are teaching them to replace us,” Kelly said. “This is just one of the many steps necessary in order for the Iraqi people to gain control of their country again.”

The Iraqi servicemembers were anxious to learn as much as possible from the Marines.  With programs like this in place, the Iraqi Army will have more opportunity to become an independent, viable military force.

“This is very good training,” Raad said.  “It will help our mechanics to keep our humvees running.”