In action against the is

In action against the is

The thermometer shows 45 degrees. Blue, cloudless sky to the horizon. Dust swirls in the distance. An explosion. Screams, a second explosion. Men in uniforms run, hide behind house walls and ruins. There is one injured. He lies in the dust and writhes in pain. The men act quickly, run onto the road, grab the wounded man by the shoulders and drag him to a safe distance for initial treatment.
From the comrades they get back cover, with the weapons in the attack the injury transport is secured. "Tak, tak, tak", the peshmerga call out and take aim at the imaginary enemy. Franz W. From wipfeld gives a signal. The exercise is finished. The supposedly shot soldier stands up, knocks the dust out of his uniform.
The scenario means everyday life in a peshmerga training camp outside erbil, the capital of kurdistan in northern iraq. The man from wipfeld trains kurdish soldiers in the fight against IS as part of the german bundestag mandate. The training shows that this is exactly what a serious incident can look like on the front line, which is less than two hours away by car. The german sergeant major is not yet satisfied. But that’s normal, because the peshmerga are here to learn how to fight, how to protect themselves, how to develop a strategy. Reliability plays a very rough role. A kurdish language mediator is always there, translating.

Coach for others

Franz W. Explains what can be improved. Coaches are trained here to pass on what they have learned to their soldiers. "We don’t want to train the individual, but the trainer, so that he can pass on what he has learned. The aim is for him to be able to work and lead on his own responsibility", adds soldier almut G. From uffenheim.
Franz W. Is deployed as a specialist against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in NBC defense. He is currently serving in the barracks in bruchsal, but would like to return to bavaria. "The locations of hammelburg or wildflecken were ideal", says the professional soldier. His tasks are many and varied, ranging from donning protective clothing and masks, disinfection in an emergency and safe water treatment to decontaminating people and vehicles. "As long as countries possess chemical weapons, NBC capabilities are necessary. It remains a hot topic."
The trained chemical laboratory technician grew up in kaufbeuren, near a barracks. "That influenced my choice of career", he admits. He has no regrets. "I would like to continue to participate in foreign missions, to get to know other cultures and to get interesting impressions", says the 27-year-old. His desired goal is to become an officer.
The peshmerga soldiers sit tightly packed in the shadows. "Since we are trained by the germans, we have much less casualties at the front", says sarbast, a 34-year-old kurdish man. What this means is clear: fewer deaths falling in the fight against IS. The father of three has already fought against saddam hussein, and later against the islamic state (IS) in mossul, in the iraqi army.
"But as a kurd I have experienced many disadvantages", tells the anti-terror specialist. Now he is fighting with the peshmerga for the security of his homeland kurdistan. The family agrees with his deployment. "My wife sees it as a great honor when I fight for my country, he says.

Illiterate people: learning with pictures

Franz W. Has now been in iraq for almost four months. Only a few more weeks, then he comes back home. "I miss family and friends, he admits. "And above all fresh air and green. I can’t stand it!" Through the translator he has a close contact with the soldiers he trains. "Of course you get to know the peshmerga very well, we spend several hours together every day. But it’s important to keep a certain distance, because after all, we are their instructors, and they are supposed to learn something.", says the sergeant major.
Then he talks about the different self-understanding of fighting with weapons and how important the bundeswehr training mission is here. The training exercises use a lot of pictures, and combat and defense scenes are depicted with figures or stones. Because many of the local soldiers are illiterate. The current training group is experienced in war "the soldiers have already fought in mossul".
But it’s a long way to go before local soldiers are qualified as instructors and group leaders. "They need to know how to behave in case of emergency, strategically and defensively. In addition, they have to give a short presentation to show that they have leadership skills. Knowing how to read and write is not essential", adds the frenchman.
"We train the peshmerga so that they can stand up to the IS. It also contributes to the security of europe", colonel peter eichelsdorfer, commander of the german contingent, sums up the international mission. The war against the islamists is raging some 140 kilometers away, in tal afar. Nearby mosul has been almost entirely liberated from IS. But there are still enough booby traps to make it almost impossible to explore the city. Nevertheless, the german soldiers are also on the move outside the camp in the course of fulfilling their mission.
"Erbil is safe, but many villages outside are destroyed", adds the 27-year-old’s superior. There are still a lot of explosive corpses, which are hidden and heimtuckisch in houses, on the village square and on ways deposited. "We also only go out in armored vehicles, in convoy, and a doctor is always with us. So that there is rapid first aid in the event of an attack or explosion", added eichelsdorfer. "The feeling of a threat is there, and we have to take it into account."
Franz W. Knows the danger and knows how to behave in case of emergency. He is already looking forward to a safe walk at home, along the meadows of the main river in wipfeld and in the local vineyards – with temperatures guaranteed to be below 45 degrees celsius.

For info:
150 soldiers participate in the training mission of the german armed forces in iraq in erbil. With around ten female soldiers, the proportion of women is small, but considerable. Because most of them hold management positions. The aim of the mission is to train the kurdish army, the peshmerga, to the extent that they can successfully wage the fight against the islamic state (IS). The germans are on site at the request of the iraqi government.

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