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An Iraqi squad leader assigns a soldier his area of responsibility during defense training aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Feb. 08, 2015. The training gave the soldiers a greater understanding of basic ambush and defense maneuvers.

Photo by Cpl. William Perkins

Dig in; Iraqi soldiers conduct defense, ambush training

26 Feb 2015 | Cpl. Will Perkins Defense Media Activity

U.S. Marines and Danish soldiers with Task Force Al Asad taught Iraqi soldiers basic defense and ambush techniques aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Feburary 6-7, 2015. 

The training gave the soldiers a greater understanding of basic ambush and defense maneuvers. 

“Most of these soldiers are right out of what we consider boot camp,” said U.S. Marine Major Brian Hasheider, an infantry officer with TF Al Asad. “Most of their experience has been focused on some basic weapons training and a lot of drill and discipline.” 

The trainees learned the basics of hasty and deliberate ambushes, the differences between them and when they’re used. 

Hasty ambushes are used when the enemy is spotted but the attackers haven’t been seen. Deliberate ambushes require planning and coordination of forces to disrupt enemy movements. However, learning the ambush techniques was only half of the training. 

“The soldiers were training to transition from the offense to the defense, where at the end of an attack they establish a defensive posture,” said Hasheider.  “We covered mainly the basic principles so we could focus on the transition portion.” 

The coalition forces tailored the training to the soldiers’ abilities because many of the Iraqi soldiers have limited experience with the advanced military tactics, requiring the coalition and Iraqi instructors to build the soldiers from the ground up. 

The soldiers were introduced to establishing a defensive position after an attack while keeping Security, Automatic Weapons, Field of Fire and Entrenchment, or S.A.F.E., in mind. The acronym reminds them how they need to most effectively use their resources. 

Having just completed basic training, the soldiers were ready for the challenging course. 

“The Iraqi soldiers want to do well, they’re eager to do well and they realize the stakes,” said Hasheider. “I think that they’re going to be fully capable of completing their mission because it’s a new Iraqi Army that’s transitioning from being more of an occupational, stabilization [force] to an Army that is capable of conducting offensive operations.” 

Some of the soldiers aren’t new to the battlefield and were selected to be squad leaders to pass their knowledge to the junior soldiers. 

U.S. Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 Juan Rodriguez, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer with SPMAGTF-CR-CC, Task Force Al Asad, said, “Really what’s important is them putting their best soldiers forward, because those guys are going to be training the [newer soldiers] within their battalions.” 

The goal is to ensure all the soldiers are ready for anything the future may hold. The instructors are confident the soldiers are getting a better grasp on the material each day. 

“I think the training is going to lead to a more tactically proficient Iraqi Army,” said Hasheider. “An army that can do fire and maneuver at the squad level. They’ve been officer centric, so now we’re building a solid [non-commissioned officer] core that can conduct missions without officers [and have the ability to] apply initiative to small-unit leadership which will make them that much more capable of a fighting force.” 

Rodriguez added that if the instructors are able to spend quality time with the Iraqi soldiers, they will have the resident knowledge in the battalions when they move forward and then it will be up to them to sustain that knowledge by setting up their own training. 

By the time the Iraqi soldiers have completed training, they’ll have earned the right to call themselves basic riflemen; having a solid foundation to build and teach from.