Heavy training for a specialist fight
16 November 2015
Newly-supplied specialist weapons will make a big difference in the fight against Daesh according to Iraqi Army officer First Lieutenant Mustafa Hussian Ali, currently working with Australian and New Zealand trainers at the Taji Military Complex north of Baghdad.
"These weapons give us an edge over Daesh, allowing us to engage them at different ranges" First Lieutenant Ali said.
"To me, the most important weapons are the .50 Cal machine gun and M14 rifle."
The Browning M2 .50 Calibre machine gun and M14 Enhanced Battle rifle allow the Iraqi Security Forces to engage targets effectively out to well beyond normal small arms ranges.
The Australian and New Zealand trainers, from Task Group Taji, are also providing instruction on support weapon systems such as the Mk 19 grenade launcher and 60mm mortar.
"These are all important weapon systems because they bring something different to the battlefield," First Lieutenant Ali said.
"We have learnt how to assemble, dissemble, aim and rectify stoppages of the weapons.
"This ensures the weapon can remain effective during battle."
Corporal Jeffrey Cummings said a most useful training aide has been movies shown on computer tablets by the Australian and New Zealand trainers.
"We use videos to show the effects of the weapons so the Iraqis gain a better understanding of what we are teaching them and what it means on the battle field," Corporal Cummings said.
"This really helps the training; they invest more time because they understand the importance of the weapon.
"The videos act as a prelude to when the Iraqis conduct their heavy weapons live-fire shoots at the Besmaya Military Complex, where we work closely with our Coalition partners to ensure the liv- fire is successful before the Iraqi’s complete their training program."
Each Iraqi soldier, commonly referred to as a jundi, attending the specialist weapons training was hand-selected by their Iraqi commanders for the task.
"The training is focused on small numbers so we can give them an enhanced level of training," Corporal Cummings said.
"The jundi are then selected to learn an individual weapon, it is basically a train the trainer course," he said.
"The jundi can now go back to their battalions and teach the other jinood [soldiers].
"Its been good to see that as they become more confident, they are taking the time to train each other during the breaks we provide them."
The specialist weapons package qualified around 60 jinood from the 71st Brigade, a significant step in their overall training and will be a key factor in the fight against Daesh.