During a training exercise, Iraqi army Pfc. Waisam Rashash Mohammed, 22, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, locates a possible improvised explosive devise at Camp Mejid, Iraq, Aug. 5, 2008. Soldiers of Iraqi army Seventh Infantry Division have undertaken months of training and practical application by coalition forces to keep the roads of Iraq safe. Photo by Cpl. Shawn Coolman.
— Protecting Coalition forces from hazards on the roads in Iraq is an enormous task that is undertaken everyday, but now it has become a little easier.
Marines with Route Clearance Platoon, Company A, Third Combat Engineer Battalion and with the Iraqi Army Seventh Infantry Division Military Transition Team have been training Iraqi Army engineers to effectively conduct independent route clearance missions throughout Iraq.
The culmination of approximately five months of training has yielded a mission-ready platoon of Iraqi Army route clearance Soldiers prepared to comb the vast desert of Iraq, helping keep the roads safe.
“It [the IA Route Clearance Platoon] takes a lot of pressure off our shoulders,” said Sgt. Xiong Yang, a combat engineer. “We can [potentially] concentrate on coalition patrol areas and they can concentrate on their own patrol areas.”
This platoon of IA route clearance Soldiers can now apply knowledge gained in previous courses with the abilities they learned from the Marines here to perform their mission with a high degree of skill.
“The Seventh Infantry Division engineers are performing well,” said Iraq Army Maj. Ihssan Jabar Murhish, engineer deputy director for the 7th ID. “In the last six months, they have conducted operations in Ninewah, Nasiriyah, Diyala, and Basrah, while supporting the units in Anbar.
Throughout the course, the Marine trainers prepared practical application scenarios to test the IA soldiers on their ability to react to unexpected situations.
“The practical application the Marines provided ties in all the previous training, and once the equipment arrives we will have the resident knowledge and ability to train on our own,” said Ihssan. “I have to observe a mission…, but I am confident in the IA engineers’ ability to accomplish whatever task they are given.”