Head of the class
June 25, 2011
Spc. Kandi Huggins
1st Advise and Assist Task Force
1st Infantry Division, U.S. Division-North
KIRKUK TRAINING CENTER, Iraq " The first company of the new Kirkuk expanded Combined Security Force â€śGolden Lionsâ€ť graduated from the Kirkuk Training Center during a ceremony in Kirkuk, Iraq, June 21.
Graduates hosted several demonstrations showcasing the eCSFâ€™s abilities to assault an objective and capture violent extremists, and conduct precision drill and ceremony.
Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, Kurdish Security Forces, and American Soldiers established the CSF in 2009 as a combined unit with the mission of working together to provide security in the area surrounding Kirkuk City.
â€śIn 2009 you established a company-sized formation,â€ť said Col. Michael Pappal, commander, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, during his remarks. â€śToday, we are all here, witnessing your growth from a company to a battalion under American advisement, not control.â€ť
The expansion to the battalion element capped a 30-day training cycle at the Kirkuk Training Center initially led by U.S. Soldiers, said Capt. Michael Neely, commander, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment.
â€śAt first we were involved in training the new CSF, teaching them what needs to be taught and how to teach it,â€ť said Neely, a Fort Worth, Texas, native. â€śOur goal was for them to train themselves.
During the training cycle, Neely said the eCSF trained on everything they needed to be an effective element in combat and security operations, with U.S. Soldiers present to ensure it is done correctly.
He said the training began with individual development consisting of classroom instruction on topics such as traffic control points, first aid and movement.
â€śThe Iraqis training each other is what is best for them,â€ť said Neely. â€śI feel that is the next step " them operating independently, taking care of themselves, each other and their country without the U.S.â€ť
As U.S. Soldiers continue the advise, train and assist mission of Operation New Dawn, leaders of 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., transferred training responsibility of the Golden Lions battalion to Col. Salah of the Iraqi Police.
Prior to the event, Lt. Col. Joseph Holland, commander, 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., served as the battalion commander for the CSF, considered a part of Company A, 2nd Bn.
â€śToday is important in many ways,â€ť said Pappal, a Creekside, Pa., native. â€śIt shows the cooperation of the Iraqi Security Forces at individual and senior levels in the province, the cooperation of the various ethnicities that makes Kirkuk unique, and how the security and welfare of the people of Kirkuk, of Iraq, are priority.â€ť
As the eCSF guidon " a black flag crested with the head of a golden lion " passed from U.S. to Iraqi authority, Neely said the overall success of the eCSF lies within the members as they continue to provide security for Kirkuk province.