Media Availability by Col. Prill in Erbil, Iraq
Colonel Bernd Prill, commander, Kurdistan Training Coordination Center
COLONEL BERND PRILL: Good afternoon. I am Colonel Prill, the commander of the KTCC Center since the start of December. I took over my command from my Italian colleague who is back at home. That means that we switch every six months and my deputy commander is Italian, (inaudible). There's with me, some guys from my staff, from the Moody International staff here at KBBC and of course, one of my trainers here.
So what I would like to do in the next five minutes is give you a short overview about the KTCC and after that we can take an opportunity to answer your questions if needed.
If you may already know, we have two pillars in our missions here. That one is an A&A, advise and assist, and the other one is a BBC, so-called building broader capacity. That means to train, especially in this area, to train the Peshmerga to fight against Daesh. To train the Pesh to fight against Daesh.
That is our mission here in the northern part of Iraq. And we are all in all we have five BBCs in the area of Iraq and only this BBC, the KTCC, is responsible for Kurdistan, northern part of Iraq. All the other four shown on this slide in the surroundings of Baghdad more or less.
What do we do on a mission? We train the Peshmerga
that's a little bit on the slide. We conducted an infantry basics course. It takes at least 25 days, training days, plus the weekends. And what we do is marksmanship training. We train them on offense and defensive operations up to a core level in rural areas and urban areas and in additionally, some high end movements.
Additionally, we conduct our specialized training to enhance case of for EOD. For the -- a person who forgets, no? In medical, sniper and maintenance, special courses for special soldiers out of the battalions to serve pillar -- the training -- training to the training issue and to take officer's training, the three-tier decision making process and command and control.
We do this year in theater and in addition to it, some training also in the other countries, for example, in Germany or in the nations you see here, left, on my left hand side.
The KTCC consists of seven nations show on this side. And what you see also on the slide is what we -- of our output so to speak. A cohort is approximately 100 soldiers, Peshmerga. So at the end, eight cohorts . Or in other words, 800 soldiers we are able to train in one POI program of instruction.
Additionally, some special training as I mentioned before, the battalion stuff, snipers, medics, signal, weapons maintenance course and so on. That is the out put today from the KTCC, 8000 soldiers in 25 days. That's what we have.
For training sites, I started the north (inaudible) with these nations that -- which are responsible for the training at (inaudible) that we have in four. That is a warehouse from the Kurdistan army. They will do some maintenance courses. We have a training site, near (inaudible) with it's force training sites
And the force training site is in the south between (inaudible), which is this formations and it's balanced between the KDP and PUK college, which are, you know, present in the area. So that means that this is a KDP, and a KDP. And this is a PUK training site. It's very important and always taken into consideration here in Kurdistan.
Some impressions of the training in the fields, some table lessons for the battalion staff, do some ABC training. The mask of course, we're (inaudible) like several nations. Some medical training for the Peshmerga, a kind of basic training and some advanced training as well, but in trainings which are delivered for several nations here in theatre.
As I mentioned before, the training in urban terrain. Therefore, we have a huge area here, now being able to use it and of course, some defensive operations on platoon and (inaudible). Furthermore, force protection, training and some (inaudible) courses for the Peshmerga and the -- this is all, what I have so far. And now it's time for your questions. Please, don't hesitate and ask if you have some and I will try to answer.
Q: What are the heaviest, most substantial weapons that the Pesh have in which you train them to employ? And do you think they have a sufficient level of weaponry given the challenges they face with Daesh?
COL. PRILL: I think there are a lot of weapons clearly, they are very -- which are very useful. One of them is the General Milan. I think that is a -- that is a successful story. And the (inaudible) in all -- especially in all anti-tank weapons, they need to destroy the (inaudible).
So that is one of the most dangerous enemies for them. And for that, the kind of anti-tank weapons and that is the anti-tank passer (inaudible) or the other anti-tank (inaudible) but still under several nations in the KTCC and of course, in (inaudible).
Q: Do you think they're well enough equipped given that the 1,200 click border they have to defend against the Islamic state?
COL. PRILL: I think it's never enough. So, but, as you mentioned, 1,000 clicks, front line, and of course, they need more. But if you, for example, look to -- (inaudible) is a German weapon, but it's a weapon we don't use, not any longer. I don't want to say that. But we get another new anti-tank weapon in Germany so when it's limited to delivery in Milan in the future, is one example. And we (inaudible) all in all. And it's not enough for 1,000 clicks. It's the truth , so but, I think it's better than nothing.
And what we've heard from the Peshmerga is if you think its very good weapon and they use it several times, especially against the (inaudible).
Q: I just wanted a quick follow up. When you say it's never enough, do you mean -- is it the quantity? Did they just need more of what, of MILANS and the current type of weapons they already possess or do you think qualitatively they need better weaponry?
COL. PRILL: No, no. I think's in quantity, not quality. Some additional points to that?
Q: (inaudible) at the mortar training of the battalions is also an added weapon they need. We are looking of course for the future that just air superiority of the coalition and the air support we give them will stay and actually get to also a large part of the successes as we defeat Daesh.
With regard to Sinjar, we have extensively shaping operations before they went in. So, actually, we've been getting -- there should be here at (inaudible). It's important and extensive to the forces across and I would like to model them.
Q: Do they -- since the coalition does not deploy J-TACs with their forces. Do you train their (inaudible) officers? Do you train them how to call in coalition airstrikes?
COL. PRILL: I don't know what we -- that's a...
COL. PRILL: ... that's more of the special forces than advise and assist. We are just 20 for more basic training.
STAFF: And the J-TACs is called personnel. They J-TAC is all signals, so if you don't have communication with the equipment you can talk to air force. And these guys, (inaudible) and cell phones. So, that's a different level of communications equipment and skills.
Q: One quick question around -- you mentioned the (inaudible) but what other kind of weaponry are you training them to confront that ISIS has and to what extent is ISIS' strength from the amount of weaponry and equipment that they have. Or is it more of a question of them just fighting more aggressively? And what is their strength that they'll be looking at?
COL. PRILL: From the ISIS perspective on it? Good question.
Staff: You should hear it from me, right? The strengths of ISIS is, of course, the use of IEDs. They are very sufficient in not only using them in urban terrain but also now using them as obstacle lanes with kind of old-fashioned mine fields.
And they lure the Peshmerga in their fields and then they kill them with indirect fire and snipers. So, what we do, first of all, we extensively train them on (inaudible) or counter IED. And of course, counter sniping and just better snipers producing the results because they need snipers.
And why do they need them? They want to keep Daesh at bay. So they want to keep them on -- they want to attack them over a larger distance. So if you only have small arms fire, then they -- you have to get them close, up to 300 meters, otherwise you can't kill them.
Snipers, if we give a course, it's also rarely that we see them and you know, on (inaudible) because they stay on the front. So, it's a difficulty for training but, this is something we're training them. And if any do demonstrations, like OP-FOR then we also have (inaudible) problem in it, a counter IED problem in it
But they are also all are sniping in it so it's a lot also to encounter the sniper, then you go for it.
Q: What's the best counter IED equipment they have? The Iraqi army has line charges, they have armored bulldozers, they have all this stuff the Americans have given them. What's the most sophisticated stuff the Peshmerga have?
COL. PRILL: Sophistication -- (inaudible) -- search equipment from the -- from the Brits. But especially, like -- (inaudible) -- equipment is not needed because the IEDs are all -- (inaudible). So you cannot find them very easy. So it's like a devious way of thinking that -- (inaudible) -- very advanced. And it's like opening a door just to the -- (inaudible) and the water is gone, flowing into a tube with some balls in it. They click and then explodes. They will not find it because it's just like toilet cleaner. It's -- it's -- (inaudible) -- it's very sophisticated.
So expensive -- (inaudible) -- more search equipment, we think that it's not a very sensible to give to them because they're using simple methods. When they need IED/ EOD guys so that -- (inaudible).
Q: Do you do medical training? Do you medical training for the Peshmerga?
COL. PRILL: (inaudible) -- of course. As I mentioned, some basic course and then we do some additional course where medic platoon -- and that' on the level, on the combat -- combat -- combat life saver level. And this -- they're two stories of success I would like to say and -- (inaudible) -- come to (ID ?) training and medic. (inaudible) -- they are not able to -- to -- (inaudible) -- the easiest thing on the -- (inaudible). They got to -- (inaudible) -- a lot of medic (bags ?) and -- and so on. And that is a lot of -- (inaudible) -- we are really key on -- (inaudible). And of course, the basic training.
Q: I think they -- haven't they lost more than 1,000 KIAs since this started? I mean, it's a fairly large number, and what do they do to and -- and how can you help them in that regard? Aren't they all from IEDs? Aren't most -- almost all of their casualties IEDs?
COL. PRILL: (inaudible). It's a -- it's a big issue here. (inaudible) is a big issue, of course. That is the point I mentioned before when they asked where -- (inaudible) -- training, and they do a lot of them. In medic -- (inaudible).
Q: I just want to ask about -- two questions about the Peshmerga themselves. To what extent is the enemy, sort of, division between the PK and the other --
COL. PRILL: KP?
Q: Yeah. Peshmerga, like how much does that matter and that come into play --
COL. PRILL: (inaudible)
Q: -- to an extent -- (inaudible). And then the second question is, do you guys also report that the Peshmerga special forces?
COL. PRILL: To the first question, I would like to hand over to the battalion trainer. (inaudible).
STAFF: (inaudible) -- 37 years old. I'm the senior trainer of one battalion -- an infantry battalion that is here for five weeks. When it comes to battalion babble, of course we have to separation (sic) in KEP members and POK members. You have to imagine whatever the battalion commander is KEP then we have the deputy commander from POK and the other way around. And that also works in different departments.
But on battalion size level and lower, it doesn't make any sense. There's no -- there are no difficulties in working together on this level. I think, from my perspective and from what I've seen, is it starts from brigade and upper level. This kind of political soldiers, but not on -- (inaudible).
Q: So – they’re intermixed is what you’re saying?
STAFF: Yeah. That's the extent. (inaudible) -- the leader from one side and then the (inaudible) people on the other side, and that works also. And as one -- (inaudible).
Q: Thank you.
COL. PRILL: And there are some counter-terrorism groups, but it is not our business. What we do is just the -- the basic infantry course, and not the special courses for their specialists, so to speak, you know. It's not our task, therefore, we have the A&A teams.
Q: Yeah -- (inaudible). Thank you. Thanks a lot.
STAFF: Thank you, appreciate it. I'll be back.