To remedy this situation, Sailors with Riverine Squadron 3, Riverine Detachment 2, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 have been holding classes for the IP on basic seamanship.
“We are teaching them the basics so when we leave they will be able to take over patrolling the river,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason H. Gialenes, 24, from Huntington Beach, Calif., who is a gunner and instructor with Riverine Squadron 3.
The policemen in the class came from all over western al-Anbar province to learn everything from knot tying to boat maneuvers as they learn to adapt their police knowledge to aquatic patrolling. For many of the policemen, the 21-day class is there first experience working on boats.
“They are already police officers, so they know how to patrol and move on the land,” said Gialenes. “We are trying to get them comfortable with operating the boats.”
With policemen from several different departments in western al-Anbar province and different backgrounds, the Riverines, as the Sailors like to called, make a point of teaching the policemen to work together.
“Even though some of them come from different tribes, we really tried to emphasize them working as a team,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ramzi Zinnekah, 34, from Palm Springs, Calif., who is an electronics technician and the class instructor with Riverine Squadron 3.
The course is based on Naval seamanship classes that Zinnekah, who is fluent in Arabic, teaches in Arabic. Gialenes then takes the students out for practical application along with several other instructors.
“The classes are good because they teach us, and everyone knows what is going on,” said Lt. 1st class Mansour Sa’id Rwaili through an interpreter, who has been with the Haditha-Barwana police force for two years. “Ramzi [Zinnekah] explains things so we know what they want us to do.”
Once on the water, the instructors on the boats run scenarios with the policemen where they practice approaching other crafts and high-speed maneuvering. The policemen even practice “surprise” man-overboard drills to keep them alert.
“[The policemen] are learning really well; like if I jump out of the boat to simulate a man-overboard they know how to respond and get me back on the boat,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Russel E. Osbun, 23, a training instructor with Riverine Squadron 3, from El Centro, Calif. “I enjoy the cultural exchange and watching them learn something that is going to help them provide a service for their country.”
(By Lance Cpl. Paul M. Torres, Regimental Combat Team 5)