January 1st, 2007 05:14 EST
New IA officers complete training
AL RUSTAMIYAH — More than 200 cadets were promoted to the rank of second lieutenant in a graduation ceremony Thursday at the Iraqi Military Academy Al Rustamiyah.
The new officers completed a year-long military leadership development course based on the United Kingdom Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, which focuses on building command, leadership and advanced military skills that the graduates will implement at their units throughout the Iraqi Army, according to IMAR’s NATO advisers.
“I am glad today because I will become an officer, but I am sad that I will be leaving my friends,” said Iraqi Army 2nd Lt. Munir. “I can say our relationship has been more like brothers. We spent so much time together.”
The yearlong officer leadership course was broken into three stages. In the first stage, the cadets went through basic training and developed basic command and leadership skills. In the second stage, they continued the development of their command and leadership skills and introduced advanced military skills. The third and final stage focused on refining all the skills taught, as well as learning more advanced military skills.
“When I saw my cadets take the rank and become officers, I was very proud,” said Iraqi Army Sgt. Maj. Muhammad, who served as an instructor for the new lieutenants. “In every term I saw the changes as they learned more and gained more knowledge. I know that they will lead using what they learned here.”
Mohammed explained that the IMAR instructors, who come from battle-tested combat units in the field, have all graduated from special NATO training courses designed to prepare them to become instructors. Additionally, he said that he goes into the field frequently to learn about new tactics and strategies that the Iraqi Army, as well as the terrorists and insurgents, are using. He then brings those lessons back to the classroom to ensure the cadets receive the best training possible.
The course, which used to be three years in length under the former regime, was shortened to just one year in order to align it more closely with the British program, a NATO adviser said.
“The training here is very good,” said Iraqi Army Capt. Fa’aiz, the academy’s public affairs officer who also served as the assistant chief instructor before becoming a spokesman for the organization. “In one year, we have many activities and teach many skills to make a professional army, and the quality of our cadets is very good. Overall, the training is the best training in all of Iraq,” he said.
IMAR graduates more than 600 Iraqi Army officers every year and its leaders are confident that the lessons taught in the classroom will have an immediate impact on the battlefields of Iraq.
“We are like a (university); we have a good academic program,” Muhammad said.
“We have classroom lessons like math, mitigation, planning, battle-techniques – but the important thing that we (do) is to make our cadets build friendships, regardless of religions. They are one. They come (here) to become officers – to be in the Iraqi Army and to help each other.”
As the ceremony concluded, the cadets rushed to the stands to greet family members and friends who came to witness their momentous accomplishments, but some of the cadets were more excited to move on to the next stage in their lives.
“I am so happy,” said Iraqi Army 2nd Lt. Bilad. “I can see the result of my hard work from the whole year. It’s great, it’s very amazing. The next job will require me to remove the theory side (of the classroom teachings) and implement the practical side (on the battlefields),” he explained. “I hope that God will give me the chance to protect my country and my unit and to fight terrorism.”
One of Bilad’s classmates agreed. “I am very happy because we finished this hard course, however we are sad because we will leave our friends and our days here,” said 2nd Lt. Suleiman. “However, we want to help re-build the Iraqi Army and fight the terrorists.”
Though the new officers had not yet received their new assignments following the graduation, they expressed an eagerness to get to their units and put their training to use.
“I am very excited to learn about my troops and my unit,” said 2nd Lt. Ghilan. “I hope to teach them what I have learned here – how to fight the terrorists. I believe that all of the skills and knowledge I have learned here will help me to be a good officer to lead my troops into battle against the terrorists.”
(Courtesy of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Wilson MNSTC-I Public Affairs)