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NEWS | June 3, 2008

Iraqi Army trains 1st Sadr City Neighborhood Guard recruits

By Zach Mott Sgt., 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

Sgt. Mohammad, with the Iraqi Army, instructs recruits for the first Neighborhood Guard class for the Jamilla neighborhood of the Sadr City district of Baghdad at a rifle range on Forward Operating Base War Eagle in northern Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zachary Mott)
Sgt. Mohammad, with the Iraqi Army, instructs recruits for the first Neighborhood Guard class for the Jamilla neighborhood of the Sadr City district of Baghdad at a rifle range on Forward Operating Base War Eagle in northern Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zachary Mott)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WAR EAGLE, Iraq (June 4, 2008) – Programs such as the Awakening Movement in Anbar province and the Sons of Iraq across parts of Baghdad and Iraq have played a critical role in those areas moving toward security and economic stability.

Multi-National Division–Baghdad Soldiers with Task Force 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, which is attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, recently conducted a recruiting effort in Sadr City for a similar program: the Neighborhood Guard.

More than 50 recruits from the Jamilla neighborhood of the Sadr City district of Baghdad spent three days at Forward Operating Base War Eagle June 2-4 to be trained on everything from common courtesies to weapons familiarization and military bearing.

“This is what’s going to get the Iraqi army out of the cities and eventually turn them over to police,” said Maj. Philip Halliburton, the Military Transition Team chief for the 3rd Battalion, 42nd Brigade, 11th Iraqi army division.

Iraqi army soldiers are leading the training for their eventual replacements. The instructors, who themselves have been mentored by MND-B Soldiers, don’t allow for even the smallest discrepancy to distract from their detailed instruction.

“This is information that I think is important to teach them,” said Sgt. Muhammad, one of the course instructors with the 3rd Bn., 42nd Bde., 11th IAD, after a block of classroom instruction.

For many of these men, who range in age from late teens to late 40s, this is their first experience with organization and discipline. The three-day training requires the recruits to march to meals, stand in formation and speak only when spoken to – any deviations from this are dealt with quickly.

“This is great training that will help us secure our neighborhood,” said Abdul Kassim, a recruit from Jamilla.

Kassim, a 20-year-old who worked as a blacksmith prior to joining the Neighborhood Guard, said he was happy to be trained by the Iraqi army and welcomed the chance to practice firing the AK-47.

The training began with each recruit reciting an oath to the Iraqi government and pledging to protect the people of their district from terrorists and special groups. Following that, the recruits were instructed on basic checkpoint operations, common courtesies and weapons familiarization during the three-day course.

When these new recruits take their posts, Halliburton said it will be a sign to the people that their people are providing security for them.

“Now it’s somebody they know providing security not just some nameless face,” he said. “The people will be more inclined to talk about tips and terrorist activity. Anything that’s going wrong they’ll be more inclined to share because they live and work in that neighborhood.”