1st Battalion Irish Guards Are Training Iraqi Army
Irish Guards train Iraqi Army
"Training the Iraqi Army is now the main focus for the British Forces in Iraq," the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards said recently, so since their deployment to Iraq in May, training the Iraqis is exactly what the Guards have been doing.
Since May, the 1st Battalion Irish Guards have been responsible for delivering training known as 'Mentoring, Monitoring and Training' to the Iraqi Army at both Shaibah, south west of Basra, and in Baghdad.
The work has seen the Irish Guards forge relationships with the Iraqi Army and train them in order that they can take greater responsibility for security within Iraq. Around 30,000 Iraqi Security Forces troops have received this training since the initiative started in 2003.
The former Shaibah Logistics Base has been turned into the Divisional Training Centre (DTC) and it is here that the Irish Guards help soldiers from the Iraqi Army to learn skills such as how to shoot, operate vehicle check points and search houses.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael O'Dwyer, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion Irish Guards, said:
"Training the Iraqi Army is now the main focus for the British Forces in Iraq and ensures that Iraqi Security Forces are increasingly capable and willing to take greater responsibility for security in Basra and across the country as a whole.
"We have already seen Iraqi Security Forces make considerable achievements as a result of this training. Since we handed over Basra Palace last month, they have been responsible for delivering security within the city and so far have effectively and successfully maintained order.
"I have no doubt that the work that we are doing in this vital area is having an extremely positive effect on increasing the Iraqi Army capability and is helping to set the conditions necessary for Multi-National Forces to hand over Basra to Provincial Iraqi Control in November."
The Irish Guards are not only contributing to improving the security conditions in Basrah Province, they are also involved in General Petraeus' Baghdad Security Plan. Based in Joint Security Station Thrasher in South Garzaliah, western Baghdad, Irish Guards work with the US Army as part of Military Transition Teams.
Primarily structured to provide advice across the spectrum of military operations from logistical controls to fire support missions, the Military Transition Teams stationed with each Iraqi Army Battalion in Baghdad provide training and advice and act as a liaison point.
The work involves conducting joint security patrols and advising on how best to deploy men in this scenario, or conducting inspections of the checkpoints controlling entry and exit points into and out of the districts of Baghdad.
Sergeant Danny Burton, currently working on one of the Military Transition Teams teams in Baghdad, said:
"This is a real opportunity for me personally and professionally. I look forward to passing on soldiering skills to the Iraqi Army in Baghdad and helping them to become a force for good in Iraq."