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Published:May 7th, 2007 06:48 EST
Taking Training to a New Level, Kirkuk Police Academy

Taking Training to a New Level, Kirkuk Police Academy

By SOP newswire

KIRKUK — It’s the sound that strikes you first. The yelling and chanting, shrieking whistles, the thunder of boots striking the ground. Then there is the visual: hundreds of Iraqis lined up and arranged in groups of blue uniforms. Some stand still, some march, and some perform movements in place at the commands of their instructors. It is in this crucible that men are transformed from civilians into Iraqi police officers.

 

This is the new life of the cadets at the Kirkuk Police Academy. Just a few weeks ago, these men lived the normal everyday lives of Iraqi citizens. Then they answered the call to serve their country and their people, leaving behind the life they knew for one of training, discipline, sacrifice and honor.

“The training is hard, but it’s also easy because we have a goal to reach," said Adnan Omar Ahmed, a cadet at the academy. “The majority (of cadets) came here for more than just a job. They came here because a lot of them got hurt by terrorists. They have had a cousin killed, a relative, or a brother. Everybody has a problem with the terrorists and the bad guys."

With more than 1,000 graduates from the previous four training sessions, and almost 900 cadets in the current session, the Kirkuk Police Academy draws in many whose desire for justice leads them to become police officers.

The Iraqi police basic training experience is similar to that of U.S. soldiers. During the eight-week course, cadets engage in physical training every morning, followed by drill and ceremony and weapons training the rest of the day. All of their instructors are Iraqi police officers.

“We teach them how to use the guns and how to defend themselves and the police station they’re going to work with," said Capt. Samad Mustafa, a weapons instructor. “It’s not a game, it’s something important. That’s what I’m teaching them."

It is a demanding schedule that leaves many cadets exhausted by the end of the day. However, they come back every day, ready to learn more of what it takes to be a police officer.

Col. Samir Morshed Khorshid, the chief of the academy, is credited for the high attendance of the academy. Samir took charge of the police academy more than a year ago, and has worked with 25th Infantry Division soldiers on the Police Transition Team (PTT) at nearby Forward Operating Base Warrior. PTT soldiers work as advisers to the Iraqi colonel, helping him improve training at the academy.

“We step behind the Iraqi instructors, let them take charge and do their own thing," said Staff Sgt. Amaury Garcia, a PTT adviser to Samir. “Basically, we’re there to assist if they need assistance, or mentor them on whatever they need."

Some improvements implemented by Samir are the additional training programs offered at the academy. Besides basic training for cadets, the academy offers a variety of advanced training courses which are taught by International Police Liaison Officers (IPLO), civilian police officers from the United States.

The academy has graduated about 3,100 officers from its advanced training courses, including criminal investigation, sergeants training program, first aid and computer skills. Currently, more than 100 officers are enrolled in advanced training courses. After attending the Kirkuk Police Academy, those officers will also be able to share their knowledge with fellow officers back at their stations.

“I came to learn the computer, and I’ve learned a lot here," said Abas Nathim. “There are many guys in my police station, and they will ask me questions about the word (program), the keyboard, and I can teach them what I learned here."

Samir also wants to start a training course for women who want to become police officers. He is in the planning stage of the operation, but hopes to recruit 100 women so he can start a trial course soon, Garcia said.

Through the combined efforts of Samir, the academy instructors, the PTT soldiers and IPLOs, the next generation of police officers should hit the streets of Kirkuk with better training and a wider range of knowledge to use in the fight to secure their city.

“I can’t speak for the rest of Iraq, but I feel that they’re going to make a big change overall in Kirkuk," Garcia said. “I believe that Col. Samir is doing a great thing. He’s all about training and doing the right thing. He’s actually taking charge and leading them forward."

By Spc. Amanda Morrissey
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment