MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Soldiers of 17th Iraqi Army Division proudly marched down the streets of Camp Deason during an Armed Forces parade in celebration of the Iraqi Army's 89th Anniversary Jan. 8.
Staff Maj. Gen. Ali Jassam Mohammad, the 17th Division commander, spoke at length to several Iraqi and U.S. leaders about the strength, honor and dignity of the new army since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
"New Iraqi Army soldiers have come through the ranks, sacrificing time and effort for a free Iraq," said Mohammad. "You put a smile on people's faces and sad faces to your enemies. Your service is an honor for that reason."
National Iraqi Armed Forces Day was celebrated Jan. 6 in the country's capital of Baghdad; this smaller rendition of that event was planned to be a tribute to 17th Division and its supporters, and a recognition of its growth since the new army was established in 2004.
"It was really nice," said Swan. "Planes flew over as representatives from every unit of their armed forces marched the streets."
The Iraqi Army band played in the background as all elements of the divisions marched down the street, swinging their right arms forward with a hard thrust at every other beat. Members of Commander's Battalion yelled a cadence as they ran down the street in formation without missing a step.
A line of military, police and engineering vehicles followed the procession of soldier formations. The many vehicles hauled mannequin-like soldiers at rigid attention, saluting the crowd as the vehicles slowly passed by.
When the procession ended, a speeding car broke through barriers to be cut off by a Humvee as a role-playing kidnapping victim was rescued. This kicked off the start of demonstrations, to include riot control and clearing a building. Onlookers were captivated as soldiers and policemen displayed techniques they have mastered over the years, proving their readiness to handle various situations that may arise in their area.
"This Army stands like a strong sword that cuts, working hard to prove itself," said Mohammad. "I would like to thank [President Barack Obama] and all the Americans in support of our army."
"People [of Iraq] can have full confidence in General Ali [Mohammad] and his Soldiers. However, he can't do it alone," said Lusk, of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., when asked by an Iraqi reporter about the stability of today's Iraqi Army. "He needs the help of the people. A whole lot of preparation went into putting the parade together and he does things right."

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