The Iraqi Army School of Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer II (SINCO II) took an important step towards full independent operating capability, after Australian instructors successfully led a heavy weapons training course.

Australian Defence Force instructors from Task Group Taji 9’s dedicated specialist and heavy weapons training team – Training Team Sierra – mentored their Iraqi colleagues through the two-week activity at the Besmayah Range Complex, south of Baghdad, in early October.

SINCO II instructor, Warrant Officer Falah Hasan Hussain, said the live-fire practices on the .50-calibre heavy machine gun and Mk 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher taught his team a great deal.

“This training with the Australian Army was so important because it gave us a lot of information,” he said.

“Now we have our old ways and the new ways. When we mix this all together it is going to be something up-to-date and practical, especially relevant for this new generation of the Iraqi Army.”

Sergeant Abraham Lawson, left, deployed with Task Group Taji 9, observes Iraqi Army soldiers during 120mm mortar training at the Besmayah training area, Iraq. Photo: Corporal Nunu Campos

Task Group Taji 9 mentor and trainer, Corporal Rhys Verrall, observed from the gun line during the training serials and said it was clear the Iraqi instructors have come far.

“The Iraqi soldiers are keen to learn, and their instructors are very knowledgeable. There is the odd occasion where we need to step in and provide a bit of assistance but they’re well on their way to being fully operationally independent,” Corporal Verrall said.

“The Iraqi instructors have really stepped up in their roles and have been a lot more hands-on with the training, as well as the conduct of the live fire practices to the point where we have stepped back into a mentoring role.”

The Besmayah training also included dry training serials with 120 millimetre mortars, during which Iraqi personnel from the 21st Composite Brigade were put through their paces to coordinate and execute simulated fire missions.

SINCO II aims to announce full operating capability later this year.