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Published:May 9th, 2007 03:51 EST
Iraqi Soldiers serve for country, family

Iraqi Soldiers serve for country, family

By SOP newswire

KIRKUK — An Iraqi Army Soldier continued training with his fellow Soldiers as part of a new brigade after graduating basic training here Thursday.


Iraqi Army Pvt. Najah Hassan Kathim, who deserted the old Iraqi Army during the initial invasion of April 2003, resumed his military career in the new Iraqi Army when he began basic training in February.

“The basic training here now is first class," said Kathim. “The equipment is new and the training is new."

Kathim knew when he joined the new Iraqi Army he would be one of 1,895 Soldiers who made up the “Samarra Brigade," and he would be serving with his basic training comrades.

“We’ve had enough time to train together, we know each other, and we’ll go to battle together," Kathim said about his fellow basic trainees on his graduation day. 

The ‘Samarra Brigade’ will formally stand as the 4th Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division in late May to protect the 60-mile stretch from Baghdad to Samarra.

According to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Gerald Snell, Coalition Military Transition Team officer-in-charge, the Iraqi Soldiers were given the choice to stay with the brigade or return later to begin training and be assigned to a different area.

Kathim formed a bond with his fellow Soldiers during basic training.

“These guys are close to my heart, more than my own brothers," Kathim said.

Not only were Kathim’s fellow comrades excited to know they would be staying with their brothers-in-arms, they were impressed with how well the new Iraqi Army treated their Soldiers compared to the old army some of them joined before the invasion.

“The old army was built on many bad things including torture and unfair treatment of Soldiers," said Iraqi Command Sgt. Maj. Mubrad Sarheed Abed of the Regional Training Center in Kirkuk. “The food was bad, and the training and equipment was poor."

“Now you can see a big difference because there is respect, and we treat Soldiers as human beings," he continued.

According to Kathim and his friends, they all came together in basic training when they realized they shared the same problems at home.

“My family was living in harsh conditions, and the new army provided [the means to take care of them]," said Kathim.

Finding a job was difficult, and there was a sick loved one in the family, said Iraqi Army Pvt. Muhamed Bakr Muhamed.

“My family and the people of Iraq don’t need to see trucks blowing up and their countrymen killed," said Iraqi Army Pvt. Fadel Ali Kadem. “Terrorists hurt students and people trying to work."

“We need to protect Iraq and stop people from doing these things," he added.

After basic training and knowing they would stay together, they all felt there was no difference between serving their family and serving their country.

“We feel together, and we look like one person," said Muhamed. “We are all just a bunch of Soldiers."

“There is no Shia, no Sunni and no Kurd – all of us serve this country," he continued.

While some have endured the hardships of the old army, the new Iraqi Army provided a hope of ensuring a better future for their families and Iraq, said Kathim.

“Serving this [Iraqi] flag and country is the best thing a man can do," he said. “I will serve my country until my final breath."

(U.S. Army story by Sgt. Michael Tuttle, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)