Paratroopers teach Iraqis to call fire from sky
Jun 3, 2010By Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
Photo Credit: Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod.
Iraqi scouts with 27th Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, watch an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter fly overhead as they take part in a live-fire training exercise during which they are learning to call in fire from helicopters at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 21. The training was conducted by 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (Army News Service, June 3, 2010) -- American paratroopers taught Iraqi soldiers how to call in fire from armed helicopters to neutralize targets in a live-fire exercise here, May 21.
Fire support specialists with 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division (Advise and Assist), trained scouts with the Iraqi Army on how to integrate air and ground forces by calling in rocket and machine-gun fire on ground targets from OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters operated by pilots of Task Force Saber, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
Integrating air and ground assets is a core competency for a standing army, said Maj. Douglas Hayes, operations officer for 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, the primary artillery component of 1/82 AAB.
"An army first and foremost needs to protect its borders against external threats," said Hayes. "This starts to build the foundation of a capability that they have not had, at least for a while -- (to) understand the procedures for marking their location and that of the target, and how to convey that to aircraft."
Twelve IA scouts and their platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Mohammad, all from 27th Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, based in nearby Baghdadi, completed two days of classroom training prior to the live-fire exercise, said Staff Sgt. James Giovanni, noncommissioned officer in charge of the training.
The Kiowa helicopters fired rockets and .50 caliber machine guns in dozens of runs at a firing range target just outside Al Asad Air Base, in daylight and dark, said Giovanni.
Mohammad, who once served in intelligence in Saddam's army, said that, with American support, the Iraqi army was gaining competency at an accelerated rate.
"The army was very strong under Saddam, but Saddam was no good," said Mohammad. "It will take 20 years to build our army as strong as Saddam's without American support, but with the Americans, it is taking far less time."
(Much more here)