By Spc. Creighton Holub, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div., PAOOctober 29, 2008
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - The 10th Iraqi Army Division and the 14th Engineering Battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash., celebrated the graduation of 15 new Iraqi route clearance specialists during a ceremony at Camp Dhi Qar Oct. 26.
Iraqi Pvt. Hazim Karim, the honor graduate and 'best Sapper,' was among the first in IA to learn how to drive the mine-resistant, ambush protected Badger vehicle and its "Ferret" arm during the 14-day course. Soon, a total of 50 IA Soldiers will be among the first to have graduated the course.
"We have gained from the Americans sharing their experiences with us," said Iraqi Lt. Mooana Abdullah Attala, the new Iraqi engineers' platoon leader. "This is a new job to the Iraqi Army. We are taking this training seriously because one day, these soldiers will be the teachers."
While the Iraqis currently have anti-roadside bomb engineers and vehicles assigned to their units, the American battalion has plans for teaching and certifying approximately 50 more troops in the near future.
"If you find an improvised explosive device on the road, you may have saved five or six other people's lives," said Staff Brig. Gen. Jabar, the 10th IA Division's deputy commander.
The 10th IA Division's platoon leader expanded on the general's statement.
"This route clearance job is very important, because right now there are lots of bombs on the roads," Attala said. "We knew this class was very important. We will clear the roads for Soldiers, civilians, convoys - everybody. Everyone feels safer and now they can go shopping or just drive to different towns. They can walk around without being scared."
The graduates are providing their people a higher standard of living, according to the new engineers.
"I enjoy knowing that we're building a better future for ourselves and our people," he said.