<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> WorldTribune.com: Mobile Iraq putting its marines through advanced training

Iraq putting its marines through advanced training

Wednesday, December 3, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

BAGHDAD The Iraq Navy has launched what officials termed an intensive training program for its Marines.

Officials said the program, begun in October 2008, was designed to rapidly enhance the capability of the navy, particularly in counter-insurgency missions. They said the focus of the training was in point defense and vessel, board, search and seizure [VBSS] operations.

"This cross training program will instantly increase the operational capability and versatility of the Iraqi Marines," British Navy Capt. Andy Shaw, a senior adviser to Baghdad, said. "It has been a real success so far, with all platoons embracing their new challenge with determination and enthusiasm."

The Marines comprise about 900 of the 2,000 members of the Iraq Navy. Officials said the training program was designed to enable all Marines, based in Umm Qasr, to undertake both point defense and VBSS operations ahead of the expansion of the naval fleet.

Officials said the navy, comprised of two battalions, plans to procure 47 vessels, mostly from Europe and the United States. In October 2008, the navy took delivery of six new Defender-class Fast Small Boats, manufactured by SAFE Boat International, with another 20 expected to arrive by early 2009.

"The introduction of the FSBs will provide a greater capability to the Iraqi Navy and Marines to move throughout the Iraqi navy waterborne area of responsibility," U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Tony Crisco said.

The navy's 1st Battalion has been training in point defense operations in the northern Gulf. The 2nd Battalion has been assigned port and ground security and was training near Basra. Officials said the coalition aims to train both battalions to conduct both marine and land operations.

"It will allow them to train unit-level tactics in a purpose-built facility with appropriate resources under the guidance of coalition and Iraqi staff," U.S. Marine Corp Capt. Cameron Albin said.

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