Motorcycles will bolster army defenses in Iraq – May 15, 2006

AL KASIK MILITARY TRAINING BASE, Iraq — Iraqi soldiers are embracing a new mode of transportation for use in base reconnaissance and convoy scouting. The soldiers here are learning on and off-road motorcycle techniques from coalition forces that will allow them to access areas they could never reach using conventional vehicles.
Before these riders can become fully certified motorcycle operators in the Iraqi army, they must first go through a 15-day safety course that focuses on safe driving skills, personal protective gear and preventative maintenance.
The first five days of instruction focus on proper riding techniques on paved roads; the next five-day phase focuses on proper off-road techniques; and the final step requires soldiers to perform proper techniques on both surfaces, while riding in full tactical gear.
Safety and understanding how the bike works are the two most important lessons instructors are trying to get across to students.
“It is important that the soldiers understand every aspect of the motorcycle before they begin using it,” said Captain Russell Waight, Coalition Military Assistance Training Team base defense advisor and motorcycle instructor. “The soldiers are not only going to have to understand safe operating techniques with the motorcycle, but they also need to know how to make small repairs if the bike shuts down in the field.”
One Iraqi soldier said he was excited to learn how to ride so that he could be an asset to his forces when they leave the base on convoys.
“When I graduate from the course, I will be able to provide a very important job,” said Iraqi Army Sgt. Maj. Foid, 4th Company Base Defense Detachment, through the aid of an interpreter. “I will be able to go ahead of convoys and radio back to them if there are any potential problems ahead.”
Waight said he feels using motorcycles to patrol the perimeter of the base will demonstrate a heightened and proactive approach to installation defense.
“The enemy is always trying to watch what we are doing,” he said. “It has been a long time since we have had an attack on the base, and I feel the motorcycle patrols will be just another tactic that will make them think twice before they attempt to attack.” psb
Writer Mark Woodbury is U.S. Air Force Senior Airman for the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq.

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