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Monday, June 6, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Iraq conducts major artillery exercise with U.S.

BAGHDAD — The Iraq Army has completed a major live fire exercise in cooperation with the United States.


Iraqi military and security forces staged Operation Iron Lion in late May in an effort to enhance firepower and interoperability. During Iron Lion, a series of training exercises in several Iraqi provinces, military and security forces fired newly-introduced artillery and mortar systems provided by the United States.

"This is important and different from past exercises because it demonstrates the ability of the ISF [Iraqi security forces] to utilize interagency efforts with efficiency and effectiveness to accomplish a large scale mission," U.S. Army 1st Lt. Scott Guo, an adviser, said.

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On May 31, the Iraq Army's 5th Division, conducted a live fire exercise near the training base at Kirkush, Middle East Newsline reported. The division, culminating a month-long training rotation at Kirkush, fired such newly-acquired weapons as the U.S.-origin M198 155 mm howitzer and 120 mm mortar indirect fire weapon systems.

"Iron Lion is the provincial capabilities demonstration for the Diyala province," Lt. Col. John Ring, a chief of security force assistance said. "It is an opportunity for the Iraqi security forces in the province to demonstrate all that they have learned and put their capabilities on display to both local and national Iraqi leaders as well as the U.S. forces leadership."

Other Iraqi units in Iron Lion included Diyala police's emergency response force and bomb squad. Officials said the army also employed helicopters for combat air support during the exercise.

The army's Light Artillery Battery also fired shells in support of ground troops. Diyala has been regarded as a major stronghold of Al Qaida.

"Our partnership allowed us to advise, train and assist these guys to gain a familiarity with a 120 mm mortar system that was new to them, and get them to a proficiency level where they are able to go out and effectively place rounds on a target, and provide support by fire to the infantry soldiers," Guo said. "They demonstrated that during the capstone live fire exercise."

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