Saturday, February 16, 2008

Combat Arms School Trains Future Leaders

BESMAYA, Iraq - In a distant corner of the windy and dusty terrain of the Iraqi training base in Besmaya, rests a compound tasked with teaching Iraqi Army officers and enlisted soldiers the advanced skills that they will need when they hit the streets of Iraq.

The Combat Arms School at the Besmaya Range Complex teaches the Basic Infantry Officer Course, the Company Leaders Course, the Mortar Course and the Advanced Marksmanship Course.

"I think this is a unique course," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. George Dixon, a senior American advisor who works with the Iraqi commandant of the school. "This is the only place this training takes place."

While the officers taught at the Basic Infantry Officer Course learn infantry unit tactics and weaponry, their training focuses on operations orders. These skills are necessary to become successful, said Dixon.

The training is based on western-style tactics, replacing the Soviet-era techniques used by the Iraqi Army in the late 80s and early 90s. Despite this, the school strives for improvement, said Iraqi Army 1st Lt. Muhammed, an instructor for the course.

"We look for new weapons, new styles of tactics and new technology to use in the class," said Muhammed.

The lieutenant is part of an all-Iraqi cadre that has taught the six-week course since 2007, while the American soldiers stationed with them only give guidance when needed.

During the course, the students are also taught how to use various weapons, which include AK-47s, rocket propelled grenades, machine guns and pistols. Specific tactics taught include close marksmanship, urban combat and setting up checkpoints.

The students in the infantry course are graduates from one of three Iraqi military academies throughout Iraq.

Once graduated from both the academy and the infantry officer course, the students are sent forward as the leaders who are prepared to battle the enemies of Iraq.

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