Hosts Free Iraqi Forces Training Exercises
By Jim Garamone,
are training Iraqi exiles and expatriates at a Hungarian air base
to aid U.S. forces should an invasion of Iraq become necessary.
U.S. soldiers are working at Taszar Air Base, Hungary, to train
up to 3,000 Free Iraqi Forces, said Army Maj. Robert Stern, a
spokesman for Task Force Warrior in Taszar. Americans in the task
force dubbed the training area "Camp Freedom."
volunteers, many of whom were tortured by Saddam Hussein, will
help U.S. and coalition units in dealing with civil-military affairs.
training of the first group has gone very well," Stern said.
"These are motivated individuals who are looking forward
to beginning their job in support of coalition forces."
He said the
trainers are also happy with the way instruction is going. He
said there were some bumpy spots at the beginning, but the Americans
adjusted their style of instruction to fit the group. "Obviously,
the first difficulty was having training conducted both in English
and Arabic," Stern said. "Second, the drill sergeants
had to change their styles from teaching U.S. basic trainees to
changed their style, interaction and dynamics and said they would
apply lessons learned to the next group.
training is divided into two phases. The first focuses on basic
soldiering skills — marching, map and compass reading, radio
operations, physical training, self- defense — military structure,
and basic U.S. military terminology.
stressed that the volunteers are not military and are not being
trained to take part in direct combat. But they do need to know
how to defend themselves. Therefore, they fire 9 mm pistols, identify
land mines and learn defenses against a chemical or biological
instructors take over for the second phase of training. The Army
envisions the Free Iraqi Forces helping with interpreting for
coalition forces, being guides, helping to handle refugees, helping
administer refugee camps, dealing with POWs and helping with rear-area
security. The Iraqi volunteers will advise commanders on local
Iraqi attitudes and help commanders as they interact with the
people of the country.
biggest role they will fill will be facilitating coordination
between coalition troops, humanitarian agencies and people who
need help," Stern said. "They will serve as the coalition
link between nongovernmental agencies and the displaced citizens
have all been thoroughly screened by U.S. law enforcement and
intelligence agencies. Many have lived in the United States for
years. Others are more recent exiles. Ages of the volunteers run
from 18 to 56, officials said.
The men will
receive $1,000 per month with additional pay for supporting family
members, specialty qualifications and recognized leadership skills.
training the volunteers come from 28 different Army units across
the United States. The soldiers are the same who train officers,
noncommissioned officers and soldiers. Before the training started
earlier this month, the Americans gathered at Fort Jackson, S.C.,
to prepare for the mission.
the volunteers will fly to the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
"The Free Iraqi Forces will be employed consistent with their
capabilities and in concert with the coalition plans," officials