By Sgt. Cody Harding, Task Force Danger Public AffairsOctober 26, 2010
BASRA, Iraq - Their training covered over a month-and-a-half of learning, teaching and practicing their tactics. They were taught how to engage targets, clear rooms and collect evidence. Most importantly, they were given the tools needed to pass the information on.
For the Basra Special Weapons and Tactics team, the graduation ceremony held at the Basra Operations Center Oct. 18 was just the beginning.
The ten SWAT team members were presented certificates of their achievement by Staff Maj. Gen. Adel Daham Fahad Al-Amery, the Basra Provincial Chief of Police.
First Lt. Christian Kapsen, a platoon leader with 1st Bn., 68th Armor Regt., said the training helps the U.S. Forces complete their mission on the ground and works with the current plan for the drawdown of forces.
"I think it will help improve their capabilities as well as start to get more recruits through," the Decatur, Minn., native said. "We're training the trainers at this point, so we'll assist with our mission of the [Redeployment of Forces] process."
The SWAT members were trained on squad tactics, weapons handling, tactical site exploitation and other important skills. While the training improved their own skills, the purpose of the course was to prepare them to teach other forces, including new SWAT members.
Maj. Ryad Hadi, the commander of the Basra SWAT team, said all Iraqi forces can benefit from the training the SWAT members received.
"We always need to improve ourselves," Hadi said. "Every time we involve this kind of training, we guarantee that our unit will continue, will improve and will use all of the expertise that will help us in securing all of Iraq, especially Basra."
Chaplain (Capt.) Miller Eichelberger, the 1st Bn., 68th Armor Regt. chaplain, said watching the graduation represented a profound shift from when he served in Desert Storm as an infantry officer.
"Now, to see them going through the full spectrum operations that we've conducted here to be stable, it's wonderful," said Eichelberger, a Louisville, Miss., native. "Especially to see how proficient these guys are in their job and their ability to take control of their country."
Though the ten SWAT members are finished with their phase of the training, the mission continues as they prepare to teach new recruits.
"As you know, all of the Iraqi forces now need a lot of training," Hadi said. "So, this is a part of the whole mission. As long as the American forces are here, we hope that we can benefit from your presence and your expertise in all kinds of missions."
"The difference is that this country has gone through a lot of changes, and I can't say more than I'm just proud of the Iraqi people and soldiers for taking charge of their country and having pride," Eichelberger added.
To Hadi, the graduation meant his police, the best of the best in the Basra Police Force, are ready.
"I promise you, all of Iraq's soldiers promise you, we will keep this country safe," Hadi said. "We will sacrifice our lives to keep this country safe."