FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq — To ensure Iraqi Security Forces are ready to handle their country’s security; U.S. Soldiers are taking their Iraqi partners to school in the sprawling deserts outside eastern Baghdad.

Dubbed the “Panther Recon Training Academy,” Paratroopers of Troop K, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, are advising and mentoring their ISF partners in order for them to hone their combat abilities and responsibilities.

The two-week academy trains both National Police officers and Iraqi Army Soldiers on the fundamentals of combat. Whether it be learning how to move in a combat formation or planning, developing and executing a combat operation, ISF personnel are receiving first-hand instruction from their U.S. counterparts.

While some ISF personnel in the academy have been already performing their duties throughout the country, the academy aims to fine-tune those skills.

“They know and understand the big picture in many of the things we are teaching them. They have done them before and it shows,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Lillie, of Winshtir, Mass., who is senior enlisted leader for Troop K. “However, it is those little details, such as what do in case the officer or senior leader goes down [that] we are trying to instill in them. We want to empower the next leader in charge to carry on and make decisions.”

“The great thing is that they want to learn and have a great attitude,” he added.

During the program, ISF personnel are taught in subjects such as leadership responsibilities, first aid training, individual movement techniques, team movement drills and reacting to enemy forces.

For many of the ISF personnel, training and getting a chance to be taught by Troop K Paratroopers is an experience they will remember.

“They have been teaching us new and useful information that I know will help all of us in the future,” said a NP assigned to the 3rd NP Bde., 1st NP Div. “This is an experience I will never forget and I will always cherish.”

A graduation ceremony is scheduled for this weekend. But Troop K Paratroopers will not have much time to relax because a new cycle of training and a new group of students are scheduled to come in soon after.

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