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Iraqi Security Forces reach graduation milestone

By By Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs

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SOUTHWEST ASIA, June 28, 2015 – Iraqi Security Forces have reached the milestone of 10,000 trained soldiers with the Iraqi army’s 73rd Brigade, 16th Division, graduation at the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity site Camp Taji, Iraq, June 28.

More than 700 personnel from the Iraqi army’s 16th Division completed their six-week brigade-level training course, specifically designed to train, equip and regenerate combat power in the ISF to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Training the ISF is an integral aspect to the coalition’s campaign to defeat ISIL, by developing enduring, capable forces to improve the security of Iraq, said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, chief of staff, CJTF-OIR.

“Ten thousand Iraqi Security Forces trained through coalition BPC sites is a significant milestone for both trainers and graduates,” said Weidley. “We won’t lose sight of the fact that there is more training ahead, as our Iraqi partners generate combat power for offensive operations, but 10,000 forces trained is a noteworthy accomplishment. 

“We congratulate all BPC contributing Nations who provided their expertise and applaud the Iraqi Security Forces who dedicated themselves to the defense of their country and met the demanding standards of this training.”

The completion of training on June 28 was an important step toward meeting operational needs in Iraq, said Brig. Gen. Ali Khalid Abdullah, commander, 76th Brigade.

“Our soldiers picked up good experience through this training with new weapons and techniques to get ready for any fight or battle – especially inside buildings. We studied the enemy strategy, especially Daesh strategy, and the way they fight,” said Abdullah. “I want to thank the Australian and New Zealand forces for all that they have done to train my soldiers. I felt there was a great relationship between the trainers and the soldiers and there was a type of brotherhood relationship, I cannot describe it in one word but it was really great.” 

The ISF commanders discussed with coalition trainers, the missions for which they were preparing, and how the coalition shaped the training program and focus accordingly, said Weidley.

“The coalition building partner capacity effort shows our commitment to helping the ISF build fighting skills, by developing an instructional regime that is based on the unit’s needs and is approved by both the coalition and the GoI” said Weidley. 

Abdullah said his officers trained right alongside their soldiers. The exercises raised their confidence in their ability to fight as a unit. The ultimate goal was to enable Iraqi forces to counter ISIL, reestablish Iraq’s borders, and retake lost terrain thereby restoring regional stability and security. 

“The graduation of this many soldiers who have been armed with the newest weapons represents a huge force against Daesh, which is a terrorist organization,” said Abdullah. “The brigade is ready with all the training, supplies and all the weapons to engage the enemy.”

Australian Army’s Col. Matthew Galton, commander of Task Group Taji, said the Australian and New Zealand trainers developed a special bond with the soldiers and officers of the brigade.

“This is the first brigade Task Group Taji has trained as part of the coalition building partner capacity mission,” said Galton. “The training focused on core operational skills, including planning and conducting operations, weapon handling, basic maneuver, integration of intelligence into operations, and leadership and ethics.”

The coalition’s continued airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have degraded ISILs capability and capacity to conduct large scale operations, Weidley said. The advise and assist teams also have enabled the ISF to integrate the power of the coalition as they prepare for upcoming operations to defeat ISIL.