BAGHDAD, July 26, 2011 -- Six photographers and videographers from Iraqi Ground Forces Command Public Affairs graduated from the United States Forces - Iraq Advanced Public Affairs Course July 23, 2011, at Camp Iraqi Hero, here.

The course, held from Jan. 15 to July 16, was a continuation of a basic public affairs course organized by the previous public affairs sections.

“The goal of the current USF-I (United States Forces - Iraq) Public Affairs Office was to take its counterparts’ accumulated training one step further, as well as to train the students to serve as trainers and instructors so that the training could continue after U.S. Forces redeploy from Iraq,” said Maj. Kristian Sorensen, director of the Advanced Public Affairs Course with USF-I and XVIII Airborne Corps Public Affairs Office.

“Seven months ago I was assigned a task to continue a mission in assisting the public affairs section of the IGFC (Iraqi Ground Forces Command) with a training program,” said Sorensen addressing the students. “I understood that this was not the first time that you had American servicemembers coming to your location to show you how we accomplish our public affairs mission.”

Not only were course requirements met by the students, but the six who attended the course were consistently asking for more training, hands-on experience as well as training materials. The USF-I Public Affairs Office decided to extend the course even further by adding three additional classes to meet their requests.

Graduates of the course demonstrated proficiency in advanced photography, advanced video production, video editing, camera maintenance, ethics in journalism, electronic photo-editing skills, creating media advisories, preparing for an interview, conducting an interview, writing feature stories and writing photo captions.

Lee Craker, lead photographer for USF-I Public Affairs Office with more than 25 years of photography experience, said this was his first time teaching Iraqi soldiers about photography and appreciated their time and dedication.

“I thought that they had a lot of enthusiasm, which I always appreciate as a teacher,” said Craker. “For a teacher, it’s very rewarding to see people who are excited of what they’re doing and wanting to learn more.”

Concluding the ceremony, each student received a certificate of completion and memorandum, certifying their training of advanced photography and video.

“I wish for you to know this,” said Sorensen, “after we leave Iraq, our communication will not end, the photos that you are taking for the IGFC carries a message across the world. When we are back in America, we will still get to see what you have seen, and I know, for now on, every time I see a photo or video from Iraq, I will think of you all.”