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May 03, 2006

A paradigm shift for an Arab Army - at least since the Brits left the region.

Students at the Iraqi Military Academy Al Rustamiyah conduct drill and ceremony during the April 26 graduation ceremony. <br />
Sgt. 1st Class Rick Brown.  Photo courtesy the US Army


Students at the Iraqi Military Academy Al Rustamiyah conduct drill and ceremony during the April 26 graduation ceremony.
Sgt. 1st Class Rick Brown


Realize it or not - this has the potential to be Revolutionary for the Iraqis. No, silly, not the D&C, this:

"They’ve learned how to use the noncommissioned officer corps, how to delegate authority to the NCOs rather than doing (everything) themselves," said Maj. Joseph Brunetti, senior Coalition advisor.

If it holds - and the seed is planted properly, this is a powerful change for an Arab Army. Truth - it's a double-edged sword, but a needful risk if we're going to break old habits.

New Iraqi army officers make the grade By Sgt. 1st Class Rick Brown

Students at the Iraqi Military Academy Al Rustamiyah conduct drill and ceremony during the April 26 graduation ceremony.
Sgt. 1st Class Rick Brown

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Army News Service, May 1, 2006) – For only the second time at the Iraqi Military Academy Al Rustamiyah, a class of newly commissioned lieutenants graduated the 12-month Officer Basic Course April 26.

The class of 158 Iraqi officers – twice as many as the first class – will now attend specific branch training before being assigned to units throughout the country.

The year-long course included detailed instruction on such basic soldiering skills as weaponry, small-unit tactics, communications and decision-making. The primary goal, according to academy leaders, was to prepare the officers to function effectively as small-unit leaders in the Iraqi army.

That includes a concept Iraqi officers might not have been very familiar with under the former regime.

"They’ve learned how to use the noncommissioned officer corps, how to delegate authority to the NCOs rather than doing (everything) themselves," said Maj. Joseph Brunetti, senior Coalition advisor.

Brunetti said this iteration of the course was taught entirely by Iraqi instructors. Some 400 Iraqi officers and NCOs are involved in providing training and support at the academy. As far as the Coalition role, Brunetti calls himself and the other Coalition members at the academy "mentors" to the team.

"The training mission has moved further away from Coalition staff, to Iraqi staff," he said. "I’m really proud of these guys. I saw them stand up and take charge … they used a lot of initiative … they’re ready to lead."

He said the Iraqi cadre continues to learn, growing more confident and capable each day.

Iraqi Sgt. Maj. Noor, academy sergeant major, said he’s proud of the officers in this class. "This course is hard, but it is beneficial," he said. "They’re stronger now and I love these guys."

Iraqi 2nd lieutenants Haidar and Ali are brothers, and went through the course together. Both believe they’ll make great officers in the Iraqi Army and both are proud of their accomplishments. But not as proud as their father, who attended the graduation ceremony.

"This is a great day to rebuild the Iraqi Army to serve the Iraqi people and the country," the father said through an interpreter. "(My) sons are in the great Iraqi Army and now we can have a good future with a new government."

He cited his preference for the new army over the former regime’s, saying that army officers are now protecting their country, as opposed to waging conflict against their own people.

While Brunetti said the training and building of the Iraqi Army is a work in progress, he also said the latest class of lieutenants is the best quality of new Iraqi officers he’s seen.

"This graduation is another step in fulfilling our exit strategy," Brunetti said. "One hundred fifty-eight new officers will fill the officer ranks of the Iraqi Army ... an officer corps that understands the principles of leadership, human rights and national pride."

(Editor's note: Sgt. 1st Class Rick Brown writes for the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq Public Affairs Office.)