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Dropping Dimes: "Golden Dragons" train 12th IA Division Soldiers to use M-16 rifles

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U.S. soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, brought Iraqi soldiers up to speed on how to use newly issued M-16 rifles at Iraqi Forward Operating Base Texan, March 22.

“Golden Dragon” soldiers of 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment used skills acquired in basic combat training, refined through years of experience, to mentor and train Commando Company, 15th Brigade, 12th Iraqi Army Division, building muscle memory for Iraqi soldiers learning to use the M-16 rifle.

Lead instructor of the class, Sgt. Bernardo Medina, infantryman, HHC, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, attached to 1st AATF, 1st Infantry Division, provided the trainees a training packet consisting of detailed pictures and descriptions translated into Arabic, beginning the class with the basic characteristics of an M-16 rifle.

“We are starting with the very basics of soldiering skills,” said Medina, an Ocala, Fla., native. “The more they know their weapon and all of the functions of it, the more they will know what do if it malfunctions.”

After learning the characteristics and parts of the M-16 rifle, each soldier completed a functions check to ensure the class was ready to progress to learning basic rifle marksmanship.

Using “Golden Dragon” soldiers to demonstrate, Medina broke down each fundamental of the M-16 rifle step by step for his Iraqi counterparts.

“There are four fundamentals you all must know before stepping up to the firing line,” Medina told the Iraqi soldiers.

The first thing the shooter must do when stepping up to the firing line is to assume a steady firing position, one that allows the firer to have good observation of the target, said Medina.

The second is aiming and aligning the sight picture on the target, he explained.

“The third is the most important—your breathing— making sure to shoot either at the bottom of your breath, or the top, but it must be the same every time;” said Medina, “and the fourth being trigger squeeze—using the tip of your finger, pull the trigger slow and smooth.”

After rehearsing the techniques several times, the Commando soldiers tested their mastering of the four fundamentals by conducting dime and washer drills.

Each Iraqi soldier partnered with their U.S. counterpart, assuming a steady position on the firing line.

U.S. soldiers, coaching their Iraqi counterparts, placed a dime on top of each trainee’s M-16 muzzle; the Iraqi soldiers, balancing the dime on the end of their rifles, squeezed their triggers.

One by one dimes dropped, and the soldiers laughed, realizing the control that must be employed to keep the dime in place.
Golden Dragon coaches motivated the Iraqi soldiers to maintain the four fundamentals until their muscles became accustomed to the motions, making it easier to keep the dime balanced, as if it were second nature.

“The motivation the U.S. soldiers gave us made the class fun. It kept me interested in wanting to learn,” said Pvt. Mohamed Shahal Ahmed, a Samara, Iraq, native, serving with Commando Company, 15th Brigade, 12th IA Division.

“I want to thank all of the instructors who made this class easy to understand, and exciting to learn,” said Mohamed. “I can’t wait to take these skills and teach my soldiers to be as proficient as I will be when this training is done.”

After mastering the four marksmanship fundamentals, the Iraqi soldiers practiced dry firing from various firing positions, preparing for an upcoming live fire exercise to validate their marksmanship with the M-16 rifle.

Article by Pvt. Alexandra McCheseney, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division