FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - In an effort to ensure Soldiers are able to attend military educational courses, the 49th Iraqi Army Brigade, 12th IA Division, has instituted classes to instruct them on Arabic reading and writing.

Working closely with the 49th IA are Soldiers of a Military Transition Team, who observe and provide logistical support for the classes.

Major Tim Rustad, a Mankato, Minn., native and officer in charge of the MITT, said the reason for the literacy program began when the 46th IA Bde. attempted to send Soldiers to military courses at K1, an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk province.

"When sending Soldiers to K1 they would fail training because of literacy problems," Maj. Rustad said.

Major Rustad said the new commander of the 46th IA Bde. recognized this problem and rather then remove these Soldiers from service, he adopted a literacy program.

Sergeant First Class Kenya Strong, a Miami native and noncommissioned officer in charge of the MITT, said their role is to provide training for the Iraqi instructors.

"We are advisors, we conduct a train-the- trainer course for the instructors so in turn they can train other Iraqi Soldiers on how to conduct classes." Sgt. 1st Class Strong said.

The course, which runs approximately six months, is taught at the brigade compound by two Iraqi officers. The 46th IA Bde. has two instructors, both college educated and trained at teaching the curriculum; which encompasses mathematics, reading, science and Islam, explained Sgt. 1st Class Strong.

Second Lieutenant Abeer and Warrant Officer Sdim give classes to roughly 20 IA Soldiers per class and teach based on a curriculum set by the 12th IA Div.

"Because I graduated from college, and I'm the lieutenant, I was selected to teach the classes," 2nd Lt. Abeer said. "We start off with the alphabet and they [IA Soldiers] learn quickly, many of them are able to read newspapers and magazines within the first 45 days."

"He's a good instructor," Sgt. 1st Class Strong said. "He goes the extra mile and will instruct one-on-one with students, he's very patient."

And the IA Soldiers seem to appreciate the hard work the instructors put into the class.

"The instructor is great," Muhammad Salih, an IA Soldier with the 49th IA Bde said. "I wasn't very good at reading or writing prior to this course, but I'm taking advantage of it and appreciate this opportunity."

Another student said he did not have any prior education and was now able to read, and will even begin taking English lessons soon.

"I couldn't read or write and I've learned to do both in a short time," said Nimr Kassd, an IA Soldier with the 49th IA Bde.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16