Page 75 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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 C Company – Op SHADER
Following a successful Ex WESSEX STORM, C Company formed up a new group of Riflemen ready to deploy on Op SHADER 8 in Iraq. The Company deployed initially to two locations; Taji, a large US-led coalition base north of Baghdad and home to Battlegroup HQ and an Engineer squadron, and Besmaya, a small and more remote Spanish-run camp east of Baghdad. Over the six months of its tour, C Company had a particularly varied experience. Initially, the majority of the Company took over the training and force protection task in Besmaya in support of the Spanish task force. This was a unique experience for most of the Riflemen, with numerous language and cultural barriers to manage with the Spanish as well as the Iraqis. The Spanish cuisine in particular was one which polarised opinion amongst the Riflemen. The teams also worked closely with the Portuguese contingent, with whom we hold a strong historical relationship; they also had the best coffee machine in camp! However, no sooner had we landed in Besmaya were we warned off that we would be withdrawing from that location. To say we were surprised would be an understatement! Still, off we set about the task of relocating our equipment back to Taji and also reinvesting the manpower dividend to locations across Iraq. By the halfway point of the tour, this was complete. Some were re-trained in the UK before returning to Iraq to drive Civilian Armoured Vehicles (CAV) in Erbil with B Company, whilst others joined the newly established Mobile Training Advisory Group (MTAG), located in Taji. The concept of this grouping was to be able to deploy small teams to locations where the UK did not have a permanent presence to providing training support to coalition partners. The first five man training team deployed to Qayyarah West airbase, just south of Mosul, in March to work with the Canadians delivering training to regional police forces. This was followed shortly after by a second team of five deployed to Al Taqqadum to train police instructors alongside the US Marine Corps. Perhaps unsurprisingly given they were both a helicopter ride away from their chain
of command, both teams absolutely loved their time away. Concurrently, the MTAG HQ was tasked with building a relationship with the
First Military College in Al Rustamiyah, Baghdad, which is the Iraqi version of Sandhurst. This became the main effort and small training teams deployed via the British Embassy (and the outdoor swimming pool located there) to deliver short training packages to the college instructors.
C Company also had a force protection platoon based in Taji, providing force protection for the Engineer and NCO Academy training teams. This was an important job that requiring the utmost profes- sionalism; Guardian Angels (the role of protecting the instructors allowing them to concentrate on deliv- ering lessons) must strike a balance between building rapport with host nation forces and constantly being vigilant. One of the benefits of being located in Taji is the chance to work with many different nations, and over the course of our time in Iraq the platoon worked with Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Singa- poreans, Poles and Germans, competing against one another in physical and military challenges on days off and working together to provide training to the Iraqi Security Forces.
Every Rifleman in C Company can look back with pride at what they achieved on Op SHADER 8. In a departure from previous iterations of SHADER, the Company deployed to five separate locations over the course of the tour to deliver operational outputs, either by providing force protection or delivering training. Riflemen of every rank developed as a result of a rewarding and interesting deployment.
Maj Charlie King
Officer Commanding C Company
    The first MTAG deployment in action – Q West
      Sharpe revision provided to the USMC free of charge

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