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Tadreeb al Shamil provides education opportunities for Iraqi Army, US Soldiers

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As U.S. and Iraqi forces train battalions of Iraqi army soldiers during Tadreeb al Shamil, the students taking the classes are not the only ones learning new skills and gaining valuable knowledge.

For junior U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq, the opportunity to impart wisdom on their Iraqi counterparts during Operation New Dawn builds leadership traits as well as practical experience in the field, said Spc. Paul Swerda, Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment.

Serving on his first deployment, Swerda, an infantryman from Tucson, Ariz., works as an instructor and advisor, training Iraqi troops during 25-day rotations at Kirkush Military Training Base and Forward Operating Base Normandy.

Swerda’s platoon from 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., part of the 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, serves attached to their sister battalion, the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, who oversees the training at KMTB and FOB Normandy.

After working closely with IA battalions for several months as part of the Tadreeb al Shamil program, Swerda and fellow soldiers transitioned control of their classes to Iraqi cadre, and now act in a supervisory capacity.

As Iraqi instructors led classes during a three-day exercise at FOB Normandy, Swerda took charge of emplacing simulated Improvised Explosive Device pyrotechnics to add a bit of realism to training scenarios.

Far different from the traditional role of a deployed infantryman, Swerda’s responsibility as a trainer and observer now allows him to see the other side of military operations, he said.

During a pre-deployment rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.—similar to the training rotation he teaches now—Swerda said he never had the opportunity to act as a trainer, as senior instructors typically perform those responsibilities.

Now, with the roles reversed, Swerda said he has received that chance to mentor others as a young specialist looking forward to soon becoming an NCO.

“It’s going to make me a better leader,” he said of the course.

Swerda’s platoon leader, 1st Lt. Stuard Stegall, said the Tadreeb al Shamil courses offer a great way for his junior enlisted soldiers to develop as leaders.

“Normally they’re being taught these classes by NCOs, but now they’re part of the instructor team, and they’re actually having roles in teaching these classes,” said Stegall. “They’re already doing NCO tasks with teaching basic classes, correcting mistakes and knowing what to look for when they correct those mistakes. I think that is going to pay off.”

For the NCOs of the platoon already well-versed in training their own Soldiers, both deployed and at home, advising the IA battalions has other benefits.

Sgt. Jeremy Mingle, a squad leader assigned to Company A, and native of Cortland, N.Y., said training Iraqi troops on fundamental infantry tasks helps keep NCOs sharp on the basics.

Previously deployed to Iraq in 2007, Mingle said the change from infantryman in Operation Iraqi Freedom to teacher in Operation New Dawn helped him build patience and respect with the Iraqi soldiers he trained.

“I have a lot of respect for those guys for wanting to step up to the plate to do their job and help defend their country,” he said.

Beyond helping the Iraqi Army achieve its goal, Mingle noted the personal pride he and other NCOs take in educating others.

“You can train your guys, but not everyone can say that they’ve trained other soldiers from a different country,” he said.

Article by Sgt. Shawn Miller, 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment