BAGHDAD - As part of a country-wide surge of 5,000 new Iraqi Army recruits, Iraqi Army Engineer School cadre are leading a 60-day Basic Combat Training course that began Oct. 6 at Camp Taji.

The surge of new recruits encompasses the progress Iraq is making to achieve self-reliance as United States Forces-Iraq personnel continue to assist the Iraqi Army in developing generating force institutional capability.

"The sovereignty of Iraq relies on its defense capabilities - these Soldiers," said Iraqi Army 1st Lt. Hamed Husan, an Iraqi Army Engineer School instructor and BCT course officer. The training covers basic soldiering skills, such as weapons marksmanship with an AK-47 rifle and a 9mm pistol, first aid, physical fitness, and army values.

"I've learned how to use different types of weapons, how to move like a Soldier, as well as discipline and respect," said Iraqi Army recruit Jundi Gasi Alsood Ali. "I'm proud to work for the defense of my country."

After basic training, these Soldiers will advance to vocational training at the Engineer School before assuming the role of engineers in their assigned units.

"Iraq is our home," Hamed said. "The work we're doing for our country makes us feel good and is part of our country's moving forward."