Iraq's Border Enforcement Department Graduates First Cadet Class
American Forces Press Service
AMMAN, Jordan, Sept. 29, 2004 Iraq graduated its first class of cadets from the Department of Border Enforcement training course here Sept. 27.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who heads Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, attended the event along with Col. Alaa al Ubaydi from Iraq's DBE, and the director of the border enforcement training facility in Jordan, Kathy Friebald.
In his remarks Petraeus challenged graduating cadets to take what they have learned back to Iraq with them and use it to set the example for others. They represent, he added, the beginning of a plan to secure Iraq's borders.
"In recent months, we've determined that more attention and resources must be given to the DBE," Petraeus said. "We have worked with your leadership as it came up with a comprehensive plan including a training program, an expansion of manpower, refurbishment of DBE infrastructure, and better equipment. This class is one of the elements of the larger strategy."
With more than 2,200 miles of border to cover, Petraeus said the task of training and equipping enough personnel is essential to ensure the security or Iraq.
"The Ministry of Interior and our team recently completed a manpower analysis that concluded that the Department of Border Enforcement is significantly understrength for the formidable task of securing Iraq's 3,600 kilometers of borders and its ports of entry," Petraeus said. "Over the next year, Iraq will double the size of the border enforcement first expanding to 24,000 and then to 32,000 members. Iraq needs the right 32,000 people for this important job. Your loyalty must be to protecting the new Iraq above any loyalties to tribe, ethnic group, religious sect or easy profit."
Instructors from Jordan and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security trained 451 Iraqi students in a variety of classes: Border Police Classes 1 and 2 a basic training course for border guards; the Border Police Supervisors Class; the Customs Police Class; the Customs Supervisors Class; Immigration Classes 1 and 2; and General Instructors Classes 1 and 2.
The students who went through the four-week course varied in age and ethnicity, representing many tribes and regions across Iraq. The class was composed of near-equal percentages of Shiia and Sunni Arabs, and smaller percentages of Kurds. Also, there was one Christian student and a few from other ethno-religious backgrounds. About 50 percent of the cadets had military experience, 46 percent had prior academy experience, and 74 percent had prior police experience.
Petraeus said much effort has gone into determining where to set up the DBE posts. "In partnership with your leadership, we have gone from province to province, determining where each of the over 300 border forts needs to be located. Some 41 are complete, and over 75 are under construction," he said.
The goal is to have more than 180 border forts completed by the end of the year, and Petraeus said the rebuilding of infrastructure would continue, but that was not the only thing that needs to be done for the DBE to succeed.
"While forts are necessary, they are not sufficient," Petraeus said. "You also need the right technology and equipment to do your job."
Petraeus said new equipment is already flowing in from radios for communication, to backscatter X-ray machines to assist in inspecting vehicles, to ground sensors that will detect movement along the border. The technology, along with manpower, would be the key, he added.
"It will take a joint effort to make this strategy and all of these initiatives a success," Petraeus said. "First and foremost, you must work with each other. Secondly, you need to work with the other Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi police, the Iraqi National Guard, the Iraqi highway patrol will assist you and you will need to assist them.
"Third, we are working on initiatives with border countries to improve communication and coordination with them," he continued. "Lastly, we will work with you for as long as you need us but not a day longer."
One cadet from Baghdad said the training will help Iraq help itself build the future of the country. "For us to come here and get the help from the American and Jordanian instructors is the first step," said Abdas, whose full name was withheld for security reasons. "We are very proud to be with the first to stand by our new Iraq, the Iraq of freedom. This makes us very proud of our instructors and all the work they have done to teach us. We will now have the training to protect our country and our borders."
The training compound was built recently to support DBE and police training and has the capacity for about 3,500 police and DBE students at once. It contains a defensive driving course, classrooms, a helipad and firing ranges. It is one of the largest police training facilities in the world.
Petraeus emphasized the task ahead for the cadets. "You are setting the standard for the new Iraq," he told the graduates. "I applaud you for your patriotism and willingness to assume the responsibility of keeping your country safe and secure. You are tasked to secure the border, and to prevent any more foreign fighters or their weapons from entering the country and aiding the insurgency.
"The task before you is far from simple," he continued. "There will be setbacks along the way. But we must all remain determined, courageous and persistent. You're going to work long, hard hours in the harshest parts of Iraq. It won't be easy, but then few things worthwhile ever are. Today is a banner day, for Iraq has taken another step on the road to building a safe and free Iraq."
(Based on a release from Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq.)