BAGHDAD - Forty-two Soldiers from the Iraqi Army's 9th Armored Division graduated from the M1A1 Familiarization Course at the Besmaya Combat Training Center Nov. 2.

This latest class, which was conducted with the assistance of Iraqi Armor School cadre, brings the total number of Iraqi Army Soldiers who have completed this course to 504.

"We are now almost fully proficient with the M1A1 tanks, so the future looks good for the Iraqi Army," said Iraqi Army Staff Sgt. Amjad Ali, a member of the M1A1 Familiarization Course cadre.

The Iraqi Armor School will add a new equipment operator's course to its selection of courses in early 2011. The new OPNET course will be a more detailed, technical course, designed to qualify M1A1 tankers for the Iraqi Army.

"The familiarization class gives them a head start on what they're going to be executing once the OPNET begins," said Sgt. 1st Class Bruce Wallace, an M1A1 tank combat advisor with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

As long as the instruction they receive is conducted properly they'll be successful, Wallace said. They can do anything on this M1A1 that the Americans can, as long as they stay proficient in their skills and maintain the vehicle.

The Iraqi Army is preparing to man 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks, which the Government of Iraq purchased from the United States through a foreign military sales agreement.

"The M1A1 is an advanced tank; it's going to support our Army and will take us to another level," Amjad said.

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