Thursday, August 24, 2006


Iraqi Soldiers Thankful for Coalition Support

Iraqi Soldiers Thankful for Coalition Support
August 7, 2006
Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
TIKRIT — Coalition forces joined with their Iraqi army counterparts to do something all Soldiers like to do, fire weapons.Weapons firing was held for newly enlisted Iraqi soldiers, “the jundhi,” at Forward Operating Base Dagger and was planned and conducted solely by the Iraqi army.
Iraqi soldiers fire their weapons at Forward Operating Base Dagger, near Tikrit, Iraq. (MNF-I Photo)
“We mainly just provided them with a little input,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Barrick of the 101st Airborne Division. “We were there more as observers than anything.”Iraqi Army noncommissioned officers ran the range. Their U.S. counterparts helped set up targets and provided guidance and demonstrations, but it was an Iraqi-run operation. Members of the Iraqi army welcomed the critique. They were ready to learn more about firing their rifles.“I would like my soldiers to see your military culture and the experience of American Soldiers when it comes to shooting,” said Iraqi Army Capt. Nakeeb Saheed, an executive officer with the 4th Iraqi Army Division. “They want to see how highly experienced you are.”Many of the Iraqi Soldiers had little to no experience on a range. Despite the blistering 110-degree heat of an early July morning, these new Soldiers were eager to launch bullets down range.“It was a good range today,” said Jundhi Adnon Essan, who enlisted in the Iraqi Army only four months ago.The Soldiers were divided into two groups. One group fired while the other provided security for the range. Each Iraqi Soldier was issued one 30-round magazine. They fired 10 rounds each from the prone, kneeling and standing positions. This day’s training was just one more step in the Iraqi Army taking the lead in security for this area in northern Iraq. It’s an arrangement Nakeeb said he hopes to continue in the coming months. “Right now, we want to keep our friendship working for us,” Nakeeb said. “We appreciate everything you do for us.”
Nakeeb also hopes Coalition forces will help train his troops in urban warfare because it is a key task for the future of the Iraqi army. “All the combat now is in the cities,” Nakeeb said.As the firing ended and an after-action review was completed, Nakeeb expressed his appreciation to the U.S. Soldiers. He said he realized many of them were spending a year away from their homes and their families.“As an Iraqi officer, I would like to thank you for the great efforts you are doing for us,” Nakeeb said. “I appreciate the efforts and the sacrifices you are making.”U.S. Soldiers should take heart and know that the majority of Iraqis support their presence here, Nakeeb said. His people would be grateful forever for being freed from Saddam’s reign of terror.“When the Iraqi people see the American trucks, they would like to wave their hands, say ‘Hi’ and greet them,” Nakeeb said. “They are so scared if the terrorists see them that they will be killed or something bad will happen to their families. The Iraqi people love the Americans from their hearts and this is more important than waving their hands.”Barrick thanked the Iraqis for their support. He said he was sure they would win in the end. “We hope we don’t have to come back, and the Iraqi Army will keep the Iraqi people from living in fear,” Barrick said. “We hope Iraq is a place we come back and visit as a tourist, and not as an Army.”
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