BAGHDAD -- A team of United States Forces-Iraq-sponsored English language teachers began conducting classes with cadets attending the Iraqi Military Academy at Rustamiyah Nov. 1

The team at Rustamiyah is one of seven USF-I English Language Training Program teams. The other six teams are working in Taji, Tikrit, Baghdad; with teams expected to start classes soon in Umm Qasr and Arbil.

"The objective is to improve the English language skills of the officer corps to enable the Iraqi Armed Forces to have a better standing on the international stage, Thompson said. As we know, English is the common language really of international negotiation."

These teams were formed by USF-I officials in a manner to provide an equal balance of educational strengths at each location, said Carlee Smith, who is the lead USF-I teacher at Rustamiyah.

"Prior to the influx of the new teachers, the English language training here consisted of three instructors who were delivering training to company-sized classes," said Brittish Royal Air Force Flight Lt. George Thompson. "A company (will) be split into two 50-strong classes, working off a syllabus that had been locally produced, based roughly along the lines of the American Language Course.

English language instruction is not new for IMAR cadets, but these teachers mark a significant effort by USF-I to renew the manner in which Iraqi Security Forces learn, and use the English language.

In addition to conducting classes, these teachers will be working to assist in developing a strong, enduring Iraqi-run English language program.

"We're going to be stepping back in a few months, as there will be 30 to 40 new Iraqi teachers coming on board in the spring," said Smith. "We will then be shadowing and mentoring them as they take over and, hopefully this time next year, we will be going home and they will be running the program."

Much work has been done at Rustamiyah to help ensure the long-term success of this program, Thompson said. An entire facility was renovated, outfitted with classrooms that will accommodate 15-student classes and then equipped by USF-I with furniture and learning materials.