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U.S. Marine Colonel Excited About Iraqi Navy Progress

By Seaman William Selby, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2008 – Over the past year, NATO members have been working to train the Iraqi navy and its petty officers, a U.S. Marine involved in that training said yesterday.

The training is focused on developing leadership skills in Iraqi noncommissioned officers, Lt. Col. David L. Coggins, who is in charge of NCO training and mentoring for the NATO Training Mission in Iraq, said during a teleconference with online journalist and “bloggers.”

“The NCO corps is truly the backbone of any military branch, especially small-unit leadership,” Coggins said.

Coggins and two others, a Danish sergeant major and a British marine captain, started the NCO training course in September. “We had 10 Iraqi noncommissioned officers that were hand-picked,” Coggins said. “They already showed some signs of leadership, and we helped to refine that.

“The goal of the course was to increase decision making and confidence building with leadership and hands-on training,” Coggins explained.

The next course consisted of 15 students using a training cadre, he said. The course is geared to a train-the-trainer concept, in which students in these courses will later use their knowledge and experience to train other students.

“The course is built and incorporated into an effective framework that future Iraqi courses will be able to identify and use the related characteristics of good leadership in the Iraqi frame of reference with their NCOs having key leadership positions,” he said.

The November course was conducted by the Iraqi trainers with NATO personnel serving as sponsors, mentors and coaches, Coggins said. “It was really NATO-sponsored and Iraqi-led, and now its Iraqi-owned and we’re just coaching them,” he said.

The training was designed to be sustainable, so once NATO left it wouldn’t get lost, Coggins added. “We didn’t want a false start, we wanted a touchdown,” he said.

“I think we may be seeing the beginning, maybe the bow-wave, towards success in the Iraqi navy, building a foundation, some framework and a pathway to future success,” Coggins said.

He added, “They’ve got it, and I’m very excited about it.”

(Navy Seaman William Selby works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)

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Related Sites:
NATO Training Mission in Iraq
Defense Department Bloggers Roundtable

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