CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq --
Iraqi Army officers are heading to their units with a little extra training, courtesy of the Marine Corps.
The Multi-National Force-West, Advanced Infantry Training Center graduated 16 students from the first ever Iraqi Officer Small Unit Leader’s Course here Feb. 2.
“You set the standard for leadership in your platoon, your company and your division,” said Maj. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, deputy chief of staff, strategy, plans, and assessment, MNF-W, as he addressed the graduates. “The country is in your hands.”
The five week course focuses on tactics of leadership they need to lead their soldiers. From first aid to land navigation, they received the basic skills neccessaryto lead from the ground up.
“We started off training them individually and then taught them to work with teams starting at the fire team level, the smallest unit, and worked their way up to platoon and company sized groups,” explained Staff Sgt. Richard G. Lamphere, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the course.
“The officer is the first building block for leadership,” said Lamphere, from Vermont. “In order for their Army to get better, their leadership has to be at that point. Now that we are at that starting point, it can only get better for them.”
During the course, they gained familiarity with the different weapons systems they will use with their units.
“The most important thing I learned in this course was the use and handling of the M-16 service rifle because it is the new and future weapon of the Iraqi Army,” said Iraqi Army 2nd Lt. Munther Hamed Frah, a graduate of the new course.
The training paid off.
“There is a myth that Iraqi soldiers can’t shoot,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Terry L. Walker, the officer in charge of the MNF-W AITC. “You can see on the wall that it is a lie,” the gunner said as he gestured to used targets from the course riddled with bullet holes in the kill zones.
Before they graduated, Robeson imparted his leadership beliefs to the new leaders of the Iraqi Army.
“Character is doing the right thing when no one is watching, and leading by example is doing the right thing, when everyone is watching,” Robeson said.
The MNF-W AITC also oversees the Iraqi Small Arms Weapons Instructor Course, and the Iraqi Highway Patrol Course.
They started training a new class of Iraqi officers this week.