On the Job Training

1st Cavalry News

MiTT sends new Iraqi troops through ‘Lions Academy’

By Sgt. Robert Yde
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

            BAGHDAD – As the Iraqi Army continues to try to increase its number of soldiers, many new troops can find themselves out conducting missions within just days of graduating from their three-week basic training program.

            Unlike an established army, which can sustain itself while waiting for new soldiers to undergo months of training, the Iraqi Army must integrate most of its new soldiers into the unit and combat operations almost immediately. This leaves little time for new recruits to undergo additional training with their units, and most skills and tasks have to be learned and refined with on-the-job training.

            To help a new group of Iraqi soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division prepare for their transition from trainee to a soldier working out in sector daily, members of the 3-5-6th IA’s Military Transition Team conducted some additional training on essential skills during what they called the “Lions Academy” May 13 and 14.

            “This is just to focus on those essential pieces that they’re going to need when they go out,” 1st Lt. Morton Ellison, a MiTT member and native of Fresno, Calif., explained of the idea behind the academy.

            Almost 300 brand new privates attended the two-day training, which focused on room clearing procedures during the first day and traffic control points on the second.

“All these soldiers are right out of basic training, and we’re going to help them with clearing rooms, training on TCPs, searching vehicles, searching people and just try to give them the confidence to go out there because they go straight from basic training out onto the battlefield,” said one of the trainers, Sgt. Anthony Rubio.

Twenty rooms were set up, and the Iraqi soldiers were broken down into groups of about 15 and given their own room to train in. On hand in each room, was an Iraqi noncommissioned officer, who conducted the training and an American NCO to offer tips and advice.

“This is just a way for us to come out and show them our experiences and teach them some tricks of the trade and teach them how we do things and get them on a higher level than they are right now,” Rubio, a native of Laredo, Texas explained.

Although the soldiers are fresh out of basic training and have no real-life experience, Rubio said they showed up to the Lions Academy well-trained and proficient, which benefits both the trainers and the trainees.

“I think the job they’re doing there in basic training is obviously a good job,” he said. “They didn’t need too much work, and we can show them more advanced tips without having to deal with a lot of the basics. It helps us and it helps them and they’re doing real well.”

Ellison agreed, saying that throughout the training, the new privates seemed very motivated and professional.

“They’re all very well prepared to go out into sector,” Ellison explained. “So what we’ve seen so far is guys who already know what they’re doing and they’re able to just refine the techniques – room clearing in particular.”

After conducting training on the basics of room clearing, the trainers added some various scenarios that the soldiers may face while out in sector, which is where they will find themselves in the coming days.

“We also have advanced rooms that we’ve set up with more specific events such as weapon caches, injured civilians or civilians on the battlefield and insurgents, so they can react to them, as well,” explained Ellison.

The additional training was very helpful according to one Iraqi private, who said he learned a lot and is excited about his is new career as a soldier.

While this was the first time that the MiTT has conducted this type of formal additional training for brand new Iraqi soldiers, 1st Sgt. Joseph McFarlane of Traverse City, Mich. said that it is something his team has wanted to do for awhile.  McFarlane said hopes that they will be able to continue offering the Lions Academy to each new group of Iraqi troops who are assigned to the 3-5-6th IA.

Sgt. David Brown watches as new Iraqi Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division practice entering a building at the ‘Lions Academy’ May 13. The academy was conducted by the 3-5-6 IA’s MiTT, part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and provided Iraqi soldiers fresh out of basic training with some additional training before they head out into sector with their new unit. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Sgt. David Brown watches as new Iraqi Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division practice entering a building at the ‘Lions Academy’ May 13. The academy was conducted by the 3-5-6 IA’s MiTT, part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and provided Iraqi soldiers fresh out of basic training with some additional training before they head out into sector with their new unit. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

New Iraqi Army troops are led up stairs by Sgt. Kenneth Swartwood (left) and Staff Sgt. Jay Mayhle during ‘Lions Academy’ training May 13. The academy provided the recent Iraqi Army basic trainee graduates with some additional training.  The training was conducted by Iraqi Army noncommissioned officers and members of the 3-5-6th IA’s MiTT, part of the 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

New Iraqi Army troops are led up stairs by Sgt. Kenneth Swartwood (left) and Staff Sgt. Jay Mayhle during ‘Lions Academy’ training May 13. The academy provided the recent Iraqi Army basic trainee graduates with some additional training.  The training was conducted by Iraqi Army noncommissioned officers and members of the 3-5-6th IA’s MiTT, part of the 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

We often hear in the MSM that the Iraqi people do not want us there. And yet, the Iraqi people continue to enlist in the Military, working side by side with the Coalition troops to clear out terrorists. Their Army is quickly becoming one of the strongest forces in the Middle East. I pray that we allow our troops to continue with the mission until Iraq is strong enough to stand on their own. We would never allow a 6 year old behind the wheel of a big truck.  So I ask for patience from the American people. Let’s allow them a chance to mature in strength and wisdom before we push them into traffic on their own? 

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