Grizzlies, Timberwolves trained Iraqi army
For members of two observer-controller teams in Hohenfels, Germany, their mission was nothing new: to act as advisers during the training of two battalions of soldiers.
What was new for members of the Grizzlies and Timberwolves teams from the Combat Maneuver Training Center was that their mission was in Iraq, and the battalions were in the Iraqi army.
Two 10-member teams headed to Iraq in March and returned Nov. 9 and Nov. 19. Each worked with separate battalions at the same Iraqi army base in Kirkush most of the time.
The Timberwolves worked with the Iraqi army’s 6th Battalion, advising the training of Iraqi soldiers from March to July, then stayed with the battalion as its soldiers began missions in Diyala province, said Maj. Pete Fedak, officer in charge of the Timberwolves detachment.
“The combat operations in Diyala province offered a good chance for the soldiers to get their feet wet,” Fedak said.
In early November, the Timberwolves soldiers deployed with the 6th Battalion to Fallujah, Fedak said.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were attached to the 7th Battalion of the Iraqi army. After helping the battalions staff train its 700 soldiers, the Grizzlies deployed to Samarra with the battalion in September, said Master Sgt. Mike Moser, noncommissioned officer in charge for the Grizzlies detachment.
“We were helping this unit train so that the battalion could perform the mission — so that it could stand up and deploy anywhere within the country,” he said.
All of the soldiers who deployed volunteered for the mission, but family members were surprised to learn that the trainers, who normally do not deploy from the training area, were heading to Iraq.
“It was completely voluntary,” Moser said. “It was kind of a surprise to the families that we were even offered the deployment. I think they assumed that, as part of the [training center], we would be stuck here for three years. The soldiers thought of it as just another deployment, and I think the families ultimately believed in what we were doing and supported us.”
While it wasn’t the biggest gathering for a unit homecoming, families and supporters stood holding signs until the wee hours of the morning awaiting the troops return.
“We got back between 2 and 3 in the morning,” Moser said. “The families were there, and there were people from the community waiting for us. I couldn’t wait for the ceremony to end; I was standing about 20 feet from my family and wanted to grab them.”
While he said he was happy to be home, Fedak said he misses the Iraqi troops he helped train.
“Saying goodbye [to the Iraqis] was pretty tough, but it’s great to be back in Germany,” Fedak said. “When I said goodbye to my wife, I knew I would see her again. When we said goodbye to those soldiers, we knew that we would probably never see them again.”