Marine Col. Erick Thomas, officer in charge, Marine Central Command Coordination Element-Kuwait and Tacoma, Wash., resident spoke to IqMTT-03 about this historic moment during their last formation.
Thomas mentioned the team spent the past several months training Iraqi marines in various tasks such as patrolling, night operations, weapons training, and search and seizure techniques.
“Your mission is now complete,” said Thomas. “You are the last Marine team to have officially helped train the Iraqi marine corps.”
“Over the past five and half months, you’ve shown the Iraqi marines what honor, courage and commitment is,” said Thomas. “The Iraqi marines have a huge responsibility ahead them, because of your team, and others before, the Iraqi marines are ready and trained.”
After the formation, the team took a moment to gather for some final photos together to mark a piece of history and to reflect on what they have accomplished.
“Our mission was to train and advise the Iraqi marines in order to enhance their capabilities to accomplish their mission,” said Maj. Monte Powell, team chief of IqMTT-03 and Chicago native. “We have trained over 1,200 Iraqi marines and conducted over 500 combat patrols within the area of Umm Qasr.”
The team also introduced the Iraqi marines to vessel procedures such as basic visit, board, and search and seizure techniques with the Iraqi navy, said Powell. Other accomplishments include conducting AK-47 weapons qualification, night vision training, vehicle control point, and entry control point techniques.
In the role of advisors, the team worked closely with both the Iraqi navy and marine counterparts.
“We advocated for over $10 million of military equipment for the Iraqi marines,” said Powell. “In addition, the team assessed the basic needs of the Iraqi navy and made recommendations to the Iraqi navy chief.”
As the last OND Marine team, Powell and his fellow Marines are proud of this moment.
“The Iraqi marines are a force that is self-reliant and able to accomplish their mission within the Iraqi armed forces,” said Powell. “The Marine Corps warrior ethos and spirit is cemented with the Iraqi marines.”