During my time embedded with Kurdish Peshmerga forces, I spent the majority of it in a training and advising role when not conducting combat operations. With this position I have come to acquire a vast amount of experience in what it requires to train soldiers to specific standards. There are basically two routes when it comes to this, you either produce a large amount of basically-trained fighters, or you create a small and highly trained/specialized force. Both, while similar in their respective processes, require and meet completely different standards. This is a very broad subject and this article is by no means the end-all be-all of this subject, but here is what I know. As always, situation dictates.

Unit PT is essential to building unit cohesion and a better all around soldier.

To determine which is best suited for the situation at hand, an in-depth evaluation of resources, logistics and “needs of the Army” must be undertaken. At times we were required to organize or acquire food, transportation, housing, training ammunition, etc. on the fly. These types of things can make or break a proper training evolution and most people never think of it when it comes to training a foreign army.

Interpreters are another huge asset and while I have given entire classes in the Kurdish language (poorly), it definitely helps to have someone who can translate the intricacies, especially when it involves firearms instruction. Location is pretty important as well; sure you can improvise and adapt but it certainly helps to have a suitable building when teaching close quarters battle techniques, or have a long distance range when teaching precision shooting techniques.

Peshmerga soldiers perfect their marksmanship skills from cover with the AK-47 at the 200m line.

Conventional forces can be produced rather quickly and on a smaller budget; but the quality of the individual soldier suffers in correlation to time and subject matter. Basic infantry skills such as marksmanship, standard formations and other fundamental skill sets can be done in as little as a 2 week course, ideally a month. Keep in mind we’re talking some bottom of the barrel, barely-a-trained-soldier-level stuff. Either way, it takes far less time to train men to an acceptable standard in basic infantry skills versus attempting to achieve a level on par with an Army Ranger.