BAGHDAD, Iraq (Feb. 25, 2008) -- More than 1,100 Iraqi Police recruits became the first to graduate from a two-week Basic Recruit Training Course at the new Furat Iraqi Police Training Academy here Feb. 21.

During the initial phase of their training, the graduates successfully completed training on weapons familiarization, law, ethics, crime scene, handcuffing and other police skills.

"Today's graduation makes us very happy, because this will provide security and control to this area," said course graduate Nihad Mahmad Taha. "We're all very excited about it. I joined the IP because I've seen how much damage the extremists did to our country, and I wanted to provide protection to my people."

Following the ceremony, the graduates were issued orders to report to their respective districts," said Capt. John Soto, who serves as officer-in-charge of the academy. Soto is assigned to Headquarters Support Company, 18th Military Police Brigade, Multi-National Division - Baghdad.

Once in their districts, the new policemen will undergo additional training in police techniques such as self-defense and further weapons training to prepare them for their next step in their professional development, an eight-week law enforcement course.

"This is the first of many steps to help the Iraqi people take control over their country," said Soto.

"We're getting more recruits out to the streets, so when people are walking out their houses, they see these Iraqis in the blue uniform providing security to them."

The 18th Military Police Brigade is a U.S. Army Europe unit headquartered in Mannheim, Germany. The brigade has spent several months helping to set up and operate the Furat academy.