Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers welcomed to NCO corps together
August 18, 2009
KIRKUK, Iraq -- The U.S. Army tradition of recognizing newly promoted noncommissioned officers to the NCO corps is through an NCO induction ceremony, a time-honored tradition for the U.S. Army, which has been shared with the new Iraqi Army.
For the first time, newly promoted NCOs from the 12th IA Division and 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, were welcomed into the NCO corps in a combined ceremony held at K1 Iraqi Military Base near Kirkuk, Iraq, July 29.
The ceremony was attended by Maj. Gen. Abdul Ameer, commanding general of the 12th IA Division, Brig. Gen. James Nixon, deputy commanding general, 25th Infantry Division, and Col. Ryan Gonsalves, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Guest speakers included the top enlisted Soldiers from the 12th IA Div. and 2nd BCT, Command Sgt. Maj. Waleed Ibrahim Ismael and Command Sgt. Major Jeffery Hof, respectively.
"Now that security has gotten better we can focus on other lines of effort, and one of those lines of effort is how do we develop the enlisted corps of the IA," Hof said. "And that has to start with the NCOs first before you can influence the Soldiers in the ranks across the IA."
For the past six months, Hof has been partnered with Waleed and the battalion sergeants major of the 12th IA Div. to mentor them, give them an understanding of where they fit in their Army, and assist them in gaining value.
"One of the things I thought was a good medium to capture that understanding was to conduct a combined NCO ceremony," Hof explained. "Over time, a slow turning in the IA to a middle class has been occurring, and I call that middle class the NCO corps."
According to Hof, the IA under the previous regime did not have that, and having the U.S Army as an example has shown the new IA a different way.
Hof also wanted to pass on the tradition of the NCO induction ceremony to the IA so that Iraqi leaders could see there is recognition in transitioning from a follower to a leader, and that the NCO corps is value-added to the officer ranks.
For Waleed, the ceremony was an opportunity to show cooperation between the U.S. Army and the IA, while recognizing NCOs.
"This [ceremony] gives the new NCOs an opportunity to show what they can do at the new ranks," Waleed said.
For Waleed, having a strong NCO corps in the IA similar to the one in the U.S. Army is vital.
"It's important to have a strong Iraqi NCO corps because they are the middle ranks, the nerve center of the IA," Waleed explained.
Waleed also believes the ceremonies will become an IA tradition, one that will encourage soldiers to work harder to achieve the ranks they see before them on the stage during this ceremony.
For Sgt. Christopher Barnes, a petroleum lab specialist from Virginia Beach, Va., with 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, and one of the new inductees into the NCO corps, the ceremony is particularly special because of the chance to do it with the Iraqi partners.
"This ceremony is important to do together because of the partnership between the two nations, and is a foundation for the both the IA and U.S. Army NCOs to learn from one another," explained Barnes.
For Sgt. Abdullah Muhamed Ilewi, an IA inductee and company sergeant, the ceremony was important to recognize the role NCOs will play in the new IA.
"I'm thankful to my leadership for the opportunity to lead, and this ceremony marks the role NCOs will fulfill by being the right hand of the Iraqi officers," Abdullah said.