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Iraq's 6th Battalion Completes Training, Activates

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2004 – The Iraqi army's 6th Battalion completed its basic training and activated today at a graduation ceremony for 523 soldiers at the Kurkush military training base.

The eight-week basic training program included instruction in basic soldiering skills, weapons, drill and ceremony, and physical training. This course marks just the second Iraqi Army battalion solely trained by Iraqis, officials said. The soldiers will take a week's leave before returning to the base for more training and to begin operations under the direction of the Iraqi Defense Ministry. The Iraqi army graduated 502 privates July 6, the first class of enlisted soldiers to emerge from the Iraqi basic training program.

"This marks one more step in building increased capability in the Iraqi Army," said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kevin Foster, Coalition Military Assistance Training Team operations officer, quoted in a coalition news release. "It validates that the training model produces a cohesive unit with well-trained soldiers that will only increase in capability over time."

On Aug. 1, soldiers from a new 7th Battalion will join the 6th Battalion to complete the Iraqi army's 3rd Brigade. The army ultimately will have 27 battalions, nine brigades and three divisions, officials said.

Leadership cadres for the remaining 20 battalions are preparing to receive their recruits and conduct the same eight-week training process at various training bases throughout the country.

The Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, part of the Office of Security Transition, assists the Iraqi government in training, equipping and mentoring the Iraqi armed forces.

The Civilian Police Assistance Training Team graduated 80 Iraqi Police Service officers from four classes at the Adnon Training Facility July 7.

The courses, meant to augment the standard eight-week basic training and three- week prior-service transition integration program courses, included 11 mid- level management course graduates, 28 basic criminal investigations course graduates, 27 criminal intelligence course graduates and 14 executive leadership course graduates.

"Every day with graduations like these, the Iraqi police get stronger," said Steve Casteel, Iraqi Interior Ministry senior consultant, quoted in a news release. "This makes the Iraqi government stronger."

Mark Weaver, Civilian Police Assistance Training Team training and standards executive officer, said the courses are tailored specifically to meet the needs of the Iraqi Police Service. The CPATT also is a branch of the Office of Security Transition.

At the Zarqa military training base in Jordan, 40 Iraqi women soldiers will graduate from the Jordanian Royal Military Academy July 9, the second of three classes of this type planned to train at the academy.

"This is an innovation for this part of the world," said United Kingdom Army Col. Kim Smith, chief liaison officer for the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, quoted in another news release. "At a certain stage in the battle, women will be needed."

Smith said that the coalition identified a pragmatic need to have women in the Iraqi army. Terrorists are using women to conceal weapons and to carry out attacks against Iraqis and coalition soldiers.

"By having women in the army," he added, "we can deal gently, but firmly with women, searching them in a way that is culturally sensitive."

(Based on releases from the Multinational Force Iraq Office Of Security Transition.)

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