Explosions and gunfire rang out at Taji Military Complex in Iraq in mid September as the latest students on the Iraqi Army Junior Leaders Course graduated from a 12-week training package.
CAPTION: An Iraqi Army M1A1M Abrams tank provides cover during a Junior Leaders Course combined-arms training assessment at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. Photo by Able Seaman Chris Beerens.
Australian and New Zealand military personnel deployed with Task Group Taji ran the course in conjunction with the Iraqi Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.
The 335 Iraqi Army students demonstrated what they’ve learnt throughout the course with a complex activity designed to showcase their combined-arms skills.
The demonstration began with snipers and simulated mortar fire, followed by infantry soldiers moving in to conduct urban assaults on three objectives.
Engineers breached the doors with explosives before main battle tanks rolled into the area to fend off an enemy counter attack.
The exercise finished with a demonstration of combat first aid skills and a helicopter medical evacuation.
Invited guests, included high ranking officers in the Iraqi Army, observed as the junior officers and soldiers successfully cleared and secured the objectives.
Officer commanding Training Company Delta Major Tim Casey said the course progressed from training in small teams, to platoons, to the combined-arms training demonstrated at the graduation.
“It was great to see the integration of Iraqi Army armour, aviation and engineers,” he said.
Following the combined-arms demonstration, a graduation ceremony was held where a number of soldiers were recognised for their notable performances during the course.
The recipient of the top shot award said his training had evolved a variety of his skills, including problem solving, sniping and leadership.
Top medic award recipient said the course had taught him how to be a better soldier.
“Now, rather than just a medic, I am both a soldier and a medic,” he said through an interpreter.
The Junior Leaders Course is the third course of this type to be run by Task Group Taji, and it continues to be a success.
As well as instructing, the task group’s trainers have been mentoring Iraqi instructors to enable the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy to hold similar courses in the future.
The graduating students have returned to their home units with enhanced leadership skills and a greater understanding of how to conduct combined-arms combat operations.
Many went straight into battle as the fight against Da’esh continues in some areas of Iraq.