Thursday, September 07, 2006

Iraq's Newest Officers Emerge

Officer Cadet
Originally uploaded by Sydney Weasel.
BAGHDAD — Over 100 Iraqi Army officer cadets graduated from the Iraqi Military Academy, Al Rustamiyah, near Baghdad, in a ceremony which had more than a hint of Britishness to it.

The UK is the lead nation for the NATO assistance provided to the Iraqi Military Academy, known to those who train and work there as IMAR.

An Iraqi commander, Brig. Imad Mohammed reflected the pride he felt in his men on the occasion.

“What they get here in 12 months turns them from nervous young men into confident leaders who have learned to work as a team and face uncertainty with courage and determination,” the commander said.

The cadets expressed similar sentiments. When asked if they had enjoyed their time, or perhaps what the best parts of the course were, the students were unanimous in their view.

1 comment:

Weasel said...

"The training in the field, the exercises, without distractions, working together, helping one another, it was all really great."

Col. Jon Mulroy is the senior member of the NATO team working with the Iraqi staff at IMAR. He was unstinting in his praise for the staff and cadets alike.
"It is a real honour to be a part of such a grand military occasion,” Mulroy said. “My own NATO staff and the Iraqi Academy staff have worked so hard during the past 12 months, as have the cadets, and we all share the massive sense of pride that is evident amongst these young men who have now earned their commissions in the new Iraqi Army."

On top of the ceremony, the families of the graduates made the day special. Many travelled considerable distances to attend – some at risk of their lives - but all were determined to show their support for the 134 young men standing in front.

With the parade over, mothers and fathers swooped down from the stands to embrace, applaud and be part of the celebration. Family after family fussed over their young men, hands fumbling to put their new badges of rank, a silver Second Lieutenant star, on their epaulettes. Some fathers dabbed their eyes, others wept openly with happiness.

Colonel Mulroy summed up the occasion:

"It has been fantastic working with the cadets, but for me it was the look of absolute delight and pride on the face of every parent, friend and relative present that really brought home the significance of such an important event. We are really achieving something here."

The cadets, transformed into young officers and warriors, grinned, saluted each other and reflected the unanimous sense of pride in their accomplishment.