Training Iraqi troops to clear the way

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Raywick native teaching, training Iraqi Army soldiers

By The Staff

BAGHDAD - Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division conducted route clearance training at the 11th Iraqi Army Division Headquarters with the Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers May 10 in Rusafa.

In order to ensure the Iraqis have the ability, knowledge and confidence to support their own country, the "Dark Knight" platoon of HHC, 1st BSTB, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. took the time to train the Iraqi Army Soldiers, said Waterville, Maine native Spc. Jack Schuchardt, a security and route clearance instructor for the Dark Knights.

Schuchardt added that this training is an important step for a positive and successful transfer from American to Iraqi forces.

"Working with the Iraqi's has been very rewarding," stated Raywick native, Sgt. Cedar Smith, a security and route clearance instructor for the Dark Knights.

Not only do they get to work with them, but they also get to learn about the culture of the Iraqi people.

Route clearance teams clear roads of improvised explosive devices or anything that could possibly threaten or harm the mission or personnel, in order to secure the road so that others may use the route to conduct missions and for the safety of the Iraqi people.

This training included many different tasks the IA Soldiers were required to master. During the training, they worked on clearing routes of IEDs and providing security.

"We start with the basic techniques and formations, and then work up from there," said Smith.

Class began by the students sitting in a U-shape around a whiteboard, where the instructor drew out diagrams that explained how route clearances work. After some discussion and questions, the IA Soldiers performed the tasks learned.

The final exercise was an IED identification lane. On the training site, U.S. troops set out simulated explosive devices for the Iraqi Soldiers to find.

Simulating a convoy, the IA Soldiers put four to five people in a group; with each group representing a "vehicle" in the convoy.

Putting the techniques and procedures they learned to use, the IA Soldiers practiced correct communication techniques, examined areas for possible IEDs and demonstrated how to contact explosive ordinance disposal teams, in the event it is necessary.

As though there was a real convoy driving down the lanes, the lead group cautiously inched forward and thoroughly scanned the area for any possible IEDs.

During the search, the IA troops discovered the device and immediately performed the steps to identify and safely clear the IED and continued with the mission.

"They still make mistakes," stated Schuchardt, referring to the Iraqi Soldiers, "but they have come a long way from when we first started."

Editor's note: This story and the photos originally appeared online at www.army.mil. It is reprinted with permission.