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Iraqi Soldiers, Police Graduate From Training

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2006 – More than 150 police recruits and a company's worth of Iraqi soldiers graduated from training in Iraq in recent days.

A graduation ceremony was held for Iraqi soldiers of the newly formed Headquarters and Support Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division, at the Al Kindi military compound in Mosul, Iraq, March 5. The company is made up of three specialized platoons. The scout platoon, the medical platoon and the maintenance platoon were individually tasked to complete their specific skills training, U.S. officials in Mosul said.

U.S. soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team's 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, conducted the training, which began Feb. 14.

During the graduation ceremony, Gen. Muthafar, the Iraqi brigade commander, Lt. Col. Fidal, the Iraqi battalion commander, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles Webster, the U.S. battalion commander, addressed the soldiers and congratulated them on a job well done. Each graduating soldier received a certificate of training, and one soldier from each platoon was awarded a gift for outstanding performance. Distinguished honor graduates were also recognized.

The ceremony ended with the Iraqi battalion presenting gifts of appreciation to their platoon trainers and thanking them for their hard work and commitment in assisting with the creation of the new company.

"The new company, along with its parent units and the entire Iraqi army, is continuing the march toward independent operations," U.S. officials said in a statement. "Task Force Band of Brothers is partnered with two brigades and 13 battalions that have already reached that milestone, with several other units preparing to join that combat-proven group."

In other news, the Iraqi police force continues to grow in strength as 167 recruits graduated from the Najaf Police Academy March 4 and joined their brothers in arms.

Abd Razak Shaed, the Iraqi police general inspector, along with U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Hilliard, commander of 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, attended the event.

"Today marks another step in the journey towards a safer, independent Iraq, and the graduates of the Iraqi Police Academy are leading the way," Hilliard said. "This graduation is another demonstration of the abilities of the new Iraqi government, which continues to make landmark strides on a regular basis."

After the ceremony, Hilliard met with Najaf Governor Assad Sultan Al-taee. The two leaders discussed a variety of issues, including the continuous support from coalition forces on the security of Najaf and its people. Both leaders also agreed that a new Iraqi police academy, designed specifically to train and equip the new government's security forces, is essential. Some potential Iraqi police travel to Jordan to receive their training. Keeping the trainees in Iraq will provide better quality officers, Al-taee said.

"You have made a choice to protect the good of Najaf, and for that, your country is proud," Hilliard told the graduates. "Iraqi citizens should know that their continued support of the local and national government is critical to maintaining this type of progress."

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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