HADITHA, Iraq -- Coalition forces and Iraqi Army continue to conduct boat operations on Lake Qadisiyah, Iraq, as the Iraqi soldiers expand their area of operations and master new skills.
3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, and the Navy Riverine Squadron 2, Detachment 3, are continually training the Iraqi Forces and transferring control of additional battlespace, even battlespaces on water.
“We’re conducting Riverine operations in order to prevent the insurgents from using the lakes, rivers and inland waterways for their operations,” said Maj. Kevin Jarrard, 35, commanding officer of Company L, 3rd Bn., 23rd Marine Regiment, who is from Gainesville, Ga. “What we hope to do in the (preceding days) is patrol the shores of the local area.”
For many of the IA, this was their first time on the water, let alone on Riverine Patrol Boats. The IA had to learn how to safely board the vessel and then how to conduct missions while on board.
“This is the first time for many of my men to be on the water,” said IA Lt. Amjed Nahir, through an interpreter. “We hope to learn quickly and begin the transition process.”
“We’re giving the IA training classes on boat operation procedures, and they are very eager to learn,” said Cpl. Keith Hernandez, 24, a team leader with Company L in charge of training the IA. “They are demonstrating and applying what they have been taught on the operations.”
The experience level of the soldiers varies, but every soldier will learn the basics so that they will all be capable of handling water operations. Operations will range from searching other vessels to tracking insurgents.
“First, (my soldiers) must learn how to use the military boats, and secondly, we must learn this new terrain in and out,” said Nahir.
During the first patrol, the Riverines planned and executed a scenario to see how the IA would react.
“While on the lake, the Sailors threw a curveball at the IA: they performed an emergency stop while going at full speed to see how the IA would respond,” said Hernandez, who is from Houston. “From what I, saw they responded well; they remained calm and followed their techniques, tactics and procedures.”
Although the IA’s mission was accomplished for the day, they looked to the future for more joint and independent missions.
“When the day’s mission was over, the (soldiers) were excited to return and conduct further operations,” said Hernandez, who grew up in Harris County. “These guys are great; they love their country and want to see it flourish.”
“I see my soldiers listening to the Coalition forces for advice, and learning almost everything from them,” Nahir added while observing his men in action. “We are now trying to fully operate without the aid of the Coalition forces.”