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A group of Iraqi Army special forces soldiers fire their AK-47s at targets to sight in their newly issued weapons while Marines with Heliborne Assault Platoon, Regimental Combat Team 5, monitor them and give tips on marksmanship at a range on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May15. The IA participated in a combat sustainment course where they first reviewed basic marksmanship and then sighted in their AK-47s. The special forces group trains and operates with Marines to assist them in assault missions.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Torres

Iraqi Army fires it up

16 May 2008 | Lance Cpl. Paul Torres 1st Marine Division

Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime. The same goes for teaching the people of Iraq to keep their country safe.

Training the Iraqi Army will help the country to reestablish stability and keep it safe from outside threats.

An IA Special Forces platoon joined up with the Heliborne Assault Platoon, Regimental Combat Team 5, to get some practice time on the range.

“We basically brought them out to sight in their weapons and to go over basic marksmanship,” said Cpl. Hunter R. Smith, 24, from Chandler, Ariz., who is a rifleman with the Heliborne Assault Platoon. “The IA (soldiers) are tasked out to the assault section to receive more in-depth infantry training.”

Eighteen Iraqi soldiers fired 10 rounds each from their AK-47’s as Marines closely monitored them to evaluate their technique and ensure safety. Relays of five fired on stationary targets while the rest stood back and waited.

“We went over basic combat stances and firing from the prone position this morning to get them ready for the range,” said Sgt. Christopher L. Little, 22, from Emporia, Kan., who is the platoon sergeant for Heliborne Assault Platoon. “We want to get them on the range at least two or three times a month so they will be ready to move into fire-and-maneuver training.”

Training alongside the Marines also afforded the IA an opportunity to build their relationship.

“It is very important for us to come out here and train with the Marines because it helps us when we go on missions to be better soldiers,” said Khormis Jebeir, a soldier with the 27th Iraqi Army infantry brigade, through an interpreter. “I am very comfortable working with the Marines; they are good teachers.”

The training the IA soldiers are receiving is critical because they also act as the primary assault element for the Quick Reaction Force, Heliborne Assault Platoon.

“On actual missions, they are a tremendous asset,” said 2nd Lt. Matthew J. Fredrick, 26, from Katy, Texas, who is the platoon commander for the Heliborne Assault Platoon. “They can feel out the crowd better than we can because they speak the language, and they let us know if anything is wrong.”

The platoon of IA soldiers originally number 100, but was eventually shrunken down to approximately two dozen of the best.

“They are the cream of the crop and smarter than your average soldier,” said Fredrick. “When we are finished training this group, the top performers will come back and help us train a new platoon and eventually we will have all Iraqi instructors.”

Firing on the range was just part of an in depth training program designed to set the Iraqi Army up to train themselves.

1st Marine Division