By 1st Lt. Antonia T. Greene
HABBANIYAH, Iraq – The 1st cycle of Sunni Iraqi Army (IA) recruits graduate Combat Basic Training at East Camp Habbaniyah.
Nearly one thousand local men graduated IA Combat Basic Training Camp Sunday morning at forward operating base (FOB) Habbaniyah, 20 kilometers east of Ar Ramadi in the Al Anbar province. They are the first cycle of the “Sunni 5000” that volunteered during local IA recruiting drives held monthly in Ar Ramadi, Al Fallujah and Al Qaim. It is expected that by mid-fall November time frame, the “Sunni 5000” will be hard at work in the Anbar province.
The Iraqi Ministry of Defense (MOD) has been awaiting a surge in Sunni IA recruits for quite some time. Many feel that Sunni men have been reluctant to join the national army and this serves as a significant step towards building a cohesive and diverse security force, representative of the Iraqi people. The Ministry’s plan is to first, successfully integrate the increasing number of Sunnis into the Iraqi Army and moreover, implement measures to assign these Soldiers to units with areas of operations (AO) within their representative residences. The goal of the Iraqi MOD is to bolster the public’s confidence and support for local Iraqi Army.
Over the course of five weeks, the new recruits learned the basic Soldiering skills necessary to ensure the safety and protection of the citizens of Al Anbar. Iraqi Army Instructors, similar to Coalition Force Drill Sergeants, train the new recruits in military customs and courtesies, basic rifle marksmanship, first aid procedures and various squad tactics, each essential for patrolling and conducting security operations. Furthermore, the MOD hopes to incorporate a follow-on school for select recruits specializing in emergency medical care, vital to the sustainment of IA combat power.
The Chief Iraqi Combat Basic Training Instructor commented on the 1st rotation of Sunni recruits. Three weeks into the training cycle he stated, “Unlike prior rotations I have led, many [of the new recruits] are former Republican Guard Junud (Soldiers). They have military experience and are progressing fast.” Chief Fadel views the influx of Sunnis into the Army as a positive step towards building a more diverse and capable military. With over eight rotations as Senior Instructor under his belt, Chief Fadel is proud to be a part of the new Habbaniyah training facility, the 1st of its kind in the Anbar region.
Lt. Col. Steven Greaf, Coalition Forces IA Combat Basic Training Senior Advisor, expressed his satisfaction with the way things are moving ahead. “It is honorable that these brave Sunni men are coming forward and I am pleased to witness their dedication to serving the people of Al Anbar province.”
Among the guest speakers at the graduation was Al Anbar Governor Ma’moun Al Awani. Governor Ma’moun spoke to the 978 new graduates lining the parade field, extending his gratitude for their dedication to the security of Al Anbar. He reassured the men that they represent the future of Anbar and have set the stage for Sunni prosperity in Iraq. Following Governor Ma’moun, 1st Division IA Executive Commander, General Baha shared his thoughts with the audience. Fellow Junud, Iraqi Police, Anbar key leaders and Coalition Forces alike cheered for the new graduates as they marched by the VIP stage conducting the traditional pass and review. Honor graduates from each Company were awarded certificates.
General Sha’aban Muhammed Samier, the Al Anbar Provincial Police Chief, focused on the importance of providing support to all three prominent cities in Al Anbar (Al Qaim, Ar Ramadi, and Al Fallujah). He motivated the new graduates to take on their new positions with honor and dignity and reminded all of the desired end state – to stabilize the nation of Iraq. “Asha Al Iraq.”