Every Sunday, U.S. Soldiers teach Iraqi army soldiers vehicle and personnel search procedures at Camp Taji, Iraq.
The class teaches the Iraqis the U.S. Army’s standard techniques and procedures to promote strong force protection at Camp Taji, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Billy Brassel, officer in charge of force protection with the 155th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
“It makes our side safer because of the convoys and amount of Iraqi personnel that enter through their [entry control points],” said Brassel, a Grenada, Miss., native.
Iraqi army soldiers operate the east and south gates, said Brassel.
For roughly six months Sgt. Darcell Young, the sergeant of the guard at Gunners Gate with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 155th BSTB, has worked side by side with Iraqi army soldiers and officials to set protocol to help improve their operational efficiency at the Iraqi monitored ECPs at Camp Taji, said Young.
The class teaches the Iraqi soldiers basics and stresses key steps for personnel and vehicle searches, said Young, a Benoit, Miss., native. Some of the Iraqi soldiers have been briefed on similar techniques and this class builds on to that training and tactical knowledge, said Young.
“I ask [the Iraqi Soldiers] what they know and use it as building blocks to increase their efficiency,” said Young. “It’s a hands-on class. I talk them through it and then I watch them do it themselves and overview how they do it. I’ll critique parts and tell them what they need to improve in. It gives them more confidence in what they are doing out there on the gates.”
With the use of a translator, Young said he teaches Iraqi army soldiers how to inspect vehicles and to search both male and female personnel. When female personnel need to be searched, the training respects Arabic cultural customs while keeping force protection top priority, said Young.
“If they ever had to search a female, they’ll know how to do it according to their cultural guidelines,” said Young.
Young said he uses his experiences from deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan to help teach Iraqi Soldiers.
He said the classes gave the Iraqi soldiers confidence and proficiency in their tasks.
“They started understanding that this was [standard operating procedure] and they have to apply to these standards,” said Young.
Young said the Iraqi army checkpoints operate with little U.S. military support. They are at the point where they run and maintain their own operations, he said.
The instruction is very informative and the teaching style helps with firsthand experience in the search methods, said Iraqi Army Spc. Haider Abbas Gaffier, a military police officer in the Taji Location Command Military Police Brigade and a Baghdad native, through a translator.
It is important that Iraqi soldiers who work on the gates know these procedures when the time comes to inspect vehicles and personnel, he said.
When U.S. Forces leave, the Iraqi forces will stand and defend their country and its people, said Brassel. Helping Iraqis maintain the same standards as U.S. forces ensures the safety of all parties, he said.