Saturday, April 21, 2007

Iraqi NCOs bring, receive honor

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq – When Saddam Hussein’s regime was in power the Iraqi army was run by only officers. It was considered disrespectful for Iraqi noncommissioned officers to wear their rank.
Since the fall of the regime, wearing the NCO rank has become a sign of pride and respect. And to honor the rank Iraqi NCOs attend the Iraqi Warrior Leader’s Course.
About 20 Iraqi soldiers from the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division graduated from the WLC at the Iraqi army compound in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, Monday.
“It is a great thing seeing the IA take on the role of an NCO,” said Lt. Col. John Laganelli, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) deputy commanding officer and native of Worcester, Mass. “This is something new – they are seeing -- the link between NCOs and officers.”
During the graduation a senior American NCO spoke of what it was like to see the IA NCOs.
“The NCO Corps is the backbone of the Army,” said 1st Sgt. Henry Brown Sr., the acting 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd BCT command sergeant major and native of Georgetown, S.C. “It is kind of like the body – it needs a backbone to hold everything together. I am proud to be here today.”
The 17-day course, which has been improved by 2-15, is similar to the American WLC. It consists of subjects such as map reading, troop leading procedures, patrolling and searching techniques. The students also conduct physical fitness training twice a day.
“I am very tough on the students because I want them to be the best,” said Master Sgt. Wesam Muhammed al Shaheed, the senior WLC instructor. “I am teaching them so they will know what to do – there is no room for mistakes when you are fighting terrorists.”
Another instructor spoke of what it was like to attend the course when he went through it.
“The class is very important to the IA,” said Sgt. Akeel, a WLC instructor. “It teaches us what an NCO is supposed to do. We need this course to make the IA successful.”
And since the fall of the regime, Iraqi officers are now able to truly respect the NCO Corps.
“Seeing the Soldiers graduate from the WLC makes me very happy,” said Brig, Gen. Ali, the 4-6 IA commander. “We need these NCOs in the IA – they help out a lot.”
Although the IA WLC is ran by the Iraqis, the 2-15 will continue to assist with future classes.

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