BAGHDAD - Iraq's Ministry of Defense officially adopted a Noncommissioned Officer Education System for the Iraqi Army Oct. 20, affording Iraq's noncommissioned officers the opportunity to engage in professional development within a standardized system that fosters professionalism and advancement.

Based on the guidance of Iraq's MoD, future NCO promotions will be dependent upon qualifications and successful completion of NCOES levels one through four, which are taught at a number of military institutions throughout Iraq. The system applies to promotions within the noncommissioned officer rank structure.

"As the Iraqi leadership's vision of the role of the Iraqi NCO is developed and implemented, the programs of instruction at the institutional levels will be adjusted to meet that vision," said Sgt. Maj. Stephan Frennier, senior enlisted advisor with United States Forces-Iraq's Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Army.

The partnered efforts of USF-I, NATO Training Mission-Iraq and Iraqi MoD leadership have provided the Iraqi military with a formalized functional NCO Education System, from which more than 4,754 Iraqi NCOs have benefited from since it was introduced in pilot form in Nov. 2008.

"I have heard several senior Iraqi General's refer to the NCO as the skeleton (backbone) of the military," Frennier said. "I believe that the senior leadership up to MoD [level] will support the professionalization of their NCO corps."

The development of a professional NCO Corps will serve to strengthen the Iraqi Armed Forces. A successful Iraq is in the best interest of United States as it will support security in the region as well as protect and extend U.S. economic interests in the country.