With a shift in mission focus just around the corner and a major milestone within reach, Exercise Talon Strike felt like the dawn of a new era at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq, on November 13.

The Iraqi Army School of Infantry NCO II (SINCO II) conducted a combined arms exercise designed to showcase the skills its instructors have passed on to soldiers of the 21st Composite Brigade over the past three months.

The exercise was the final activity held under the direct observation of Australian and New Zealand advisers after nine rotations of Task Group Taji (TGT), with the school announcing full operational capability on November 19.

This milestone certified SINCO II as becoming the first Iraqi training establishment to have capacity to run 100 per cent of its courses, with coalition support to now take the form of a school mentoring team.

Officer Commanding Training Team Bravo TGT-9, Major Brandon Coghill, said it was an excellent learning experience for both the Iraqi instructors and their Aussie and Kiwi mentors.

“This was the first time many of the Iraqi officers had commanded and operated in a combined arms setting, which allowed them to better understand the benefits of utilising the full range of their new skills,” Major Coghill said.

“Exercise Talon Strike has provided the Iraqi instructors with a template for future course culminating activities and allowed the soldiers to test their new skills and equipment before moving back into kinetic operations against the terrorist group Daesh.”

Task Group Taji has trained about 46,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces and other law enforcement personnel since 2015.