BAGHDAD - The Besmaya Combat Training Center was officially transferred to the Iraqi Army during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Besmaya July 31.
The CTC will be the training site for 140 Iraqi Army-purchased M1A1 Abrams tanks. T

The first 11 tanks are scheduled to arrive this month, along with an M88A2 recovery vehicle. The remaining 129 tanks and seven recovery vehicles will be delivered before December 2011.

"Great armies train continuously. This combat training center is the premier collective training site for mechanized, light infantry and artillery forces in the country. It has hosted training for more than 80 percent of the Iraq Army during the last three years," said Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, Deputy Commanding General, Advising and Training and NATO Training Mission-Iraq.

The Iraqi Army and U.S. Army have been working together since 2009 to familiarize Iraqi tank crewmembers with the Abrams tank in anticipation of the Iraqi tanks' arrival. More than 60 crews have already been trained. Iraqi crewmembers are also scheduled to receive a complete new equipment training package in conjunction with the fielding of the tanks.

According to Army Lt. Col. Tom Bentzel, Iraq Foreign Military Sales director for Project Manager Heavy Brigade Combat Team, the tanks will be transitioned to the Iraqis at the BCTC. Once fielded, the Iraqi Army is expected to integrate the tanks into the 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division located in central Iraq.