KIRKUK, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 14, 2008) -- A total of 1,325 Iraqi Police recruits graduated Jan. 9 during a ceremony at the Kirkuk Police Academy in northeastern Iraq.
In concert with Iraq's Emergency Services Recognition Day celebration, the IPs conducted a pass-in-review in front of their senior leadership representing Iraq's Police Force, Army, Emergency Services, and other departments within the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense. Kirkuk's city and provincial government officials were also in attendance.
The Iraqi Anthem kicked off the event followed by a moment of silence to recognize the "men and women who have sacrificed their lives in an effort to establish and maintain security here," according to an IP official at the ceremony.
"You are graduating from one of the best training centers in the country," Gen. Jamal Thaker Baker, Kirkuk provincial director of police said. "You are heroes. You will now join your brothers in the Iraqi Police to keep the security and stability of our province."
Senior military leadership from the 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division were also on hand to show their support.
"You have chosen a noble profession...you are heroes to the people of the Kirkuk province and to your country," Col. David Paschal, commander, 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division said.
This was the ninth class to graduate from what the locals refer to as the Al-Tahadi (Challenge) training course, or better known as the Kirkuk Police Academy. The course can run between nine to 15 weeks to meet the 400 hours of training required by the Ministry of Interior. The training includes basic law enforcement skills mixed with military tactics such as search and cordon operations to human rights classroom lectures to operating a check-point, and procedures for handling improvised explosive devices.
The IP graduation coincided with the 86th anniversary of Emergency Services in Iraq. To recognize the anniversary, a ceremony followed the IP graduation, and included a procession of vehicles used by the city and provincial police, traffic police, Emergency Services Unit, Emergency Response Unit and the fire departments. They were positioned as they would be in a funeral procession and traversed the parade grounds to honor martyrs of the IP and Emergency Services. According to IP provincial police statics, more than 800 Kirkuk IP graduates died in 2007.
Ninja-attired IPs followed the procession, entertaining the hundreds in attendance with a martial arts demonstration. The demonstration concluded with the release of confetti, pigeons and the unfurling of the Iraqi flag, symbolizing hope and security in the rebuilding of a new and more secure Iraq, according to Kirkuk Academy staff.
(Staff Sgt. Margaret C. Nelson serves with the 115th MPAD.)