Airmen train Iraqi police

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Scott Saldukas
  • 407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
Iraqi policemen from the city of Nasiriyah earned explosive ordnance disposal patches Nov. 4 after completing training with Air Force EOD technicians assigned to Task Force Troy at Forward Operating Base Cedar.

The training, conducted by three Airmen, is part of a six-week course offered to the Iraqi police to help them better understand the technicalities of EOD.

The training is also designed to establish independent operations and further aid in the transition of forces scheduled to withdraw from Iraq in 2011.

"We are training the Iraq police on how to disarm (improvised explosive devices) while handling themselves and the situation calmly," said Senior Airman Kyle Gnuechtel, an EOD technician deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. "Teaching them basic EOD and recognition of devices has been going very well."

During the training, Iraqi police were split into three separate groups and were put through different scenarios that they may come across when called upon during an EOD response. Some of the scenarios were re-enacted as though there was a call describing what was found and the location. From the information learned about the situation, each six person team strategized the best and safest way to handle the situation.

"If they failed the first time they were able to learn from their mistakes and realize what they could have done to correctly to complete the mission," said Staff Sgt. Arthur Bigelow, an EOD technician deployed from Fairchild AFB, Wash. "It's better to find out the wrong way now then down the road after we completely turn the operation over to the Iraqi's in the future."

Although the Iraqi EOD members have not operated with the same equipment, they quickly became accustomed to the new and useful tools, which were recently added to their inventory for Iraqi missions in the province.

"During their training we let them do the procedures the way they know how to, while supervising and assisting them in order to make their operations safer and more effective," Sergeant Bigelow said.

He explained that Iraqi EOD troops just received new equipment and are still learning to use it and trust it.

"We show them how to perform their mission without getting killed," Airman Gnuechtel said. "They haven't had the same assets and materials for long so we are teaching them the safe and better way to do it."

While performing the task at hand, the Iraqi EOD team conversed with each other and the trainers to get the most out of the training. As the scenarios went on they compared past missions with the training and explained how their new tools will be able to help them successfully complete the new missions.

The training is similar to a tech school environment, Airman Gnuechtel said.

"A group of students learning what they are suppose to do the correct way," he said. "If something is wrong or there is confusion we step in and help with the problem solving."

Even though the training the Airmen are providing is not their primary mission, it is equally as important and is already paying off.

Throughout training at FOB Cedar Iraqi, EOD personnel are recovering unexploded ordnances on their own and properly turning them in to Air Force EOD members, Sergeant Bigelow said. This displays the knowledge they are retaining and shows their reliability to the citizens of Iraq.

"Training the Iraqi EOD will prove to be crucial when everything gets handed over to the Iraqi people," said Airman Gnuechtel, a native of Austin, Texas. "It's not only allowing us to get out of the cities and pull back but it is better for the people of Nasiriyah and southern Iraq. Response times will be much quicker and the residents of this province will feel better knowing that their police are able to respond and protect them."