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Iraqi Soldiers Graduate from Boot Camp in Anbar Province

American Forces Press Service

CAMP HABBANYAH, Iraq, May 1, 2006 – Nearly 1,000 Iraqi army soldiers graduated from boot camp yesterday, beginning the first step toward an integrated army in Iraq's Anbar province.

"The movement of an integrated army in al Anbar is the only future," said Col. Larry D. Nicholson, commander of Regimental Combat Team 5, based in Fallujah. "When people look out their window and see the army, they need to be able to say, 'It's my army.' Today, we took a very positive step in that direction."

A total of 978 Iraqi soldiers, who were recruited from across Anbar province, graduated a nearly five-week training regimen. From here, the new soldiers will continue training at their assigned units across Iraq.

"The perception in (Fallujah) is it's an outsider army," said Capt. Bryce Essary, who served as a Military Transition Team advisor to the Iraqi army in Fallujah. "Now, it's more of a hometown army."

This is the first of six basic training courses planned for the Iraqi army here. Recruiting drives for the next class are already in the planning stages.

(From a Multinational Force West news release.)

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