Soldiers Work, Train, Live With Their Iraqi Army Partners
1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq — A single blue door separates the 46th Brigade, 12th Division Iraqi Army and the "Punisher" Soldiers of 3rd Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at their shared compound, Patrol Base Gaines-Mills- and the Soldiers stationed here would not have it any other way.
The Punishers have many more training opportunities than other elements within Kirkuk, according to Pfc. Michael Crownover, a Colorado Springs, Colo., native and a gunner for the Punishers. Since we live with our partners we can train or go on missions anytime the IA wants to; within minutes.
This is a true advantage for the Punishers and their IA partners; the numbers can prove it. Together they have been on more than 45 missions, discovered nine separate caches and captured many insurgents that were involved in planting of improvised explosive devices, since they arrived here nearly two months ago.
Living together not only gives the partnership an advantage with missions but also allows the training of IA soldiers to be more in depth and personable.
"I think they respect us more because we live with them," said Crownover. "It allows us to assist them anytime they need it."
Assisting their IA partners is exactly what these Soldiers do on a daily basis.
At Gaines-Mills the infantry Soldiers are able to train the IA commando company in everything from basic weaponry to how to conduct air assaults. The leadership for the "Punishers" is able to provide assistance to their IA counterparts and mechanics are able to give hands-on training to the IA mechanics.
Capt. Muhammad Husan, the commando company commander spoke very highly of the commando training that the "Punishers" hold for his Soldiers.
"The class that is being held today is on the last day," said Muhammad. "I am very confident that they have been trained so well that they will be able to come back and teach other Soldiers in the company what they have learned."
These are the results the "Punishers" are looking for; they want the IA to be able to stand on their own and because we train, work and live together this mission will be accomplished at a different level then other elements in the area, according to Sgt. Rodney Owens, a Long Beach, Calif., native, and a gunner for the Punishers.