‘First Lightning’ Battalion Soldiers help Iraqi Federal Police find their way with GPS devices 


Second Lt. Donald Gillilan, left, a platoon leader with 1st “First Lightning” Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center and a Fort Worth, Texas, native, demonstrates to Iraqi Federal Police Maj. Abbass Hawi Khaleed, second from left, and IFP 2nd Lt. Saif Ahmed Hussein, both with the 1st Iraqi Federal Police Division, how to read the different pages on a GPS device at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, April 17, 2011. The First Lightning Battalion offered a basic course on the proper operation of GPS devices to the 1st IFP Div. to enhance the Iraqis’ ability to quickly reach areas where they are needed. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Justin Childers, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C)
Story by 2nd Lt. Donald Gillilan, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C

BAGHDAD—Soldiers with 1st “First Lightning” Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center had the opportunity to showcase their knowledge of navigational technology during a training mission April 17 with members of the 1st Iraqi Federal Police Division at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq.

Recently, the 1st IFP Div. was issued GPS devices to assist them on their patrolling and quick reaction force missions. In some cases before the training began, when the 1st IFP Div. would attempt to rush to a location, there was miscommunication on where exactly to go. To alleviate some of the confusion that has arisen as a result of inexperience with the equipment, the First Lightning Battalion implemented a block of instruction on the GPS.

“Use of a GPS is something that both the Iraqis and U.S. forces identified as a necessary training focus for the 1st IFP Div.,” said Lt. Col. Jeffery Ramsey, Stability Transition Team chief with 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Pittsburgh native. “The training conducted today will also continue to foster our relationship and pave the way for future training with the 1st IFP Div.”

Soldiers with experience using a GPS volunteered to show and instruct the Iraqis.  The course covered how to plot a ten-digit grid coordinate, utilize terrain features and determine the best approach to a destination.

“The training was simple, something that we can take for granted because we are so accustomed to having this type of technology,” said Sgt. Matthew Overall, with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Dexter, Mo., native.

The training began with simple instructions to show the 1st IFP Div. how to navigate through the device’s interface. The First Lightning Soldiers then moved onto a quick simulation to ensure that each IFP member understood how each key functioned.  

“My noncommissioned officers taught me that the ‘crawl, walk and run’ method to training was the best way to go,” said Spc. Justin Childers, with HHB, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Morango, Iowa native.  “So we focused first on what each key is used for and then went from there.”

Finally, a field exercise was conducted where a grid coordinate was announced, and the 1st IFP Div. police officers had to input the data and find their way to the location. Each location was no more than a half-mile away, but the point of the course was to ensure the 1FP were trained to enter and read the data.  

The First Lightning Soldiers are already planning a more rigorous training program for the next time they meet with the 1st IFP Div.

“When we were constructing the curriculum together, we wanted to make it simple and quick,” said Sgt. Ralph Sutton, a team leader with HHB, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and an Arcadia, Fla., native.  “Now that we have begun working with them, and they have expressed interest in continuing this training partnership, we want to gradually increase the complexity of the field exercise to improve their performance.”

When the training session ended, IFP Maj. Abbass Hawi Knaleel, personal security detachment commander with the 1st IFP Div., thanked the First Lightning Soldiers and expressed his desire for future training.

 “You are very good teachers,” Knaleel said. “Now I can take this knowledge back with me and train my officers so we can perform our duties more efficiently.”