Test Class Graduates at Iraqi NCO Academy
February 1, 2008
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Army News Service, Feb. 1, 2008) - Graduating from the Task Force Marne Noncommissioned Officers Academy here on Jan. 28 is just the starting point for 56 Iraqi NCOs.
The course's first class included 55 Iraqi Army NCOs and one Iraqi Police NCO. The hope is that these leaders will take lessons learned over two weeks and pass them on to the troops they lead. Lessons learned will also be used in future training after the academy's grand opening Feb. 12.
"What do you do now' You go back to your units and make a difference," said the Chief Commandant and Multi-National Division - Center Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews Jr. "Use your newly acquired skills to train your units."
The NCOs' new skills consist mainly of tasks aimed at making them more effective leaders and fighters. The students learned a variety of battle drills, including reacting to small arms fire and improvised explosive devices, vehicle and detainee searching and performing building clearances under the guidance of experienced American NCOs.
To make the training - based on Fort Stewart's Warrior Leaders Course, more realistic - cadre used a variety of props and simulators.
"We wanted to make it as realistic as possible," said Staff Sgt. Robert Duke, a small group leader at the academy. "We used dead rounds (artillery shells), smoke and simulators."
In charge of training the students of what to look for when searching vehicles, Duke hid inert IED components in a vehicle and had students try and locate the mechanisms.
He said they performed well and successfully completed their mission, and as days were spent living, working and learning together, the students molded into a team.
"By the end of the course, they wouldn't do anything individually. They understand how to work as a team," he said
Their success gives U.S. Army leader's confidence in the development of Iraqi Security Forces.
"This is the beginning of a new era," Andrews said, noting all graduates were better leaders than when they first entered the class. "All Soldiers deserve outstanding leadership. You will provide it."
Although a junior leader, Cpl. Muhamed Ahmed Jasim, 8th Iraqi Army Division, said he is eager to share what he learned and provide that leadership. He feels his Soldiers will benefit from the lessons he learned at the academy. By teaching them skills such as dismounted battle drills, first aid and clearing buildings, he said they will be more effective at taking the fight to insurgents.
"We gained good instructions on how to do things right," he said.
Seeing the graduates' motivation helped academy cadre realize they are accomplishing something worthwhile for future Iraqi Security Forces. "This is just a start, building a foundation," said Andrews.
Instruction will continue throughout the year and the goal is to have a new class graduate monthly, with each class gradually increasing in size until classes hold 180 students, Andrews said.
"In the end this will enable us to tie into two lines of operation: security and (transition), transferring over patrol bases," Andrews said. "(If we) work together as a team, we will get the mission accomplished."
(Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky serves with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office.)