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Coalition assists in training thousands of Iraqi soldiers

By By John Redfield, U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

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March 31, 2015 — MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., March 31, 2015 - Though airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant may be the most visible portion of coalition support in Iraq, about a dozen countries are contributing to the training of Iraqi soldiers, an effort that so far has produced more than 5,000 newly trained Iraqi soldiers, with another 4,700 currently in training.

The coalition nations who are part of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve have committed more than 1,500 troops of their own to train, advise and assist Iraqi security forces at four locations in Iraq, according to a CJTF-OIR news release.

"We want to do what we can to help change the conditions inside of Iraq and Syria so that what we see happening there now, does not happen again in the future," said Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, U.S. Central Command commander, in his posture statement March 26 to the Senate Armed Services Committee. "The key to doing so is enabling indigenous forces to defend their own borders and provide for the security of their sovereign territory. This is the goal of our advise and assist and build partner capacity efforts currently underway in Iraq, and soon in Syria."

The training courses in Iraq are six weeks long and cover some broad topics, such as leadership, ethics and law of war training, as well as practicing such tactics as reacting to ambushes, moving in different formations, and moving safely through roads and other areas where they might be exposed to enemy fire.

In noting the graduation earlier this month of about 1,500 forces from a six-week training course, Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Iraq, said, "these proud Iraqi soldiers will soon be on the front line, taking the fight to the enemy, and in time ensuring the liberation of their country."