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Iraqi army graduates 25 soldiers into the medical field for 7th Iraqi Army Division

3 Feb 2007 | Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes

Twenty-five Iraqi soldiers with the 7th Iraqi Army Division graduated from a five-week-long medical training course Jan. 23, 2007, and returned to their home units in Iraq.

The course took place in an Iraqi army compound dubbed Camp Phoenix, sharing grounds with a U.S. Marine base here.

The course began Dec. 26, 2006, and was established to train Iraqi soldiers to become “medics,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Enrique D. Romero, a Navy corpsman with the Military Transition Team [MiTT] here who helped train the Iraqi soldiers.

The MiTT is made up of U.S. Marine and U.S. Army teams that embed and train with the Iraqi army. They’re tasked with advising the Iraqi Army of intelligence, communications, fire support, logistics and infantry tactics. Their goal is to make the Iraqi unit they train tactically, operationally and logistically self-reliant, ensuring the battalion is prepared to take responsibility of their battle space.

This is the third basic medical training course the MiTT team has conducted under the command of Regimental Combat Team-7, said Romero, a Kalamazoo, Mich., native.

“This is now their [Iraqi soldiers’] MOS [Military Occupational Specialty],” said Romero.  “They’ll be returning to their units with the knowledge of basic medical training under their belt, which makes them a significant asset to their unit.”

Romero said the course is a crucial step in getting the Iraqi army to become a better force, relying less on U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers here.

Additionally, the Iraqi medics will have an aid station located on each Iraqi base or compound, added Romero.

“With the medical training these [Iraqi] soldiers received, their fellow soldiers will now have a place to get treated and to heal when their wounded– vice going home,” said Romero.

The course was very successful, said Hussen Jaber Sahar Khlaeef, a warrant officer with 2nd Brigade, 3rd Battalion, 7th Iraqi Army Division who was the lead instructor of the course.

“Everyone scored really well,” said Khlaeef through an Arabic-English interpreter.  “No one scored less than an 80 percent average in the course.”

During the course, the Iraqi soldiers learned basic life-saving skills such as treating open wounds, splinting, treating for shock, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other ways to tend to common wounds or sicknesses soldiers might suffer in training or during combat operations.

“I am very glad I have this training now,” said Thaear Salman Shamkhe Jaber, an Iraqi soldier who scored the highest in the course.  “I’m confident I will be able to apply this whenever the time comes.”

Last year, Jaber, who’s been an Iraqi soldier for nearly two years, said he tended to and helped treat two wounded U.S. Soldiers and one Iraqi Soldier after the convoy they were a part of struck an improvised explosive device.

“Medical training is important for all soldiers – whether Iraqi or American,” said Jaber through an Arabic-English interpreter.  “Now, I know I can treat my soldiers or anyone else properly if they get wounded or hurt.”

Having their own aid station is a great way to keep Iraqi soldiers in the army, said Romero.

“Just like U.S. armed forces, the medical treatment the Iraqi soldiers receive here will be free,” said Romero.  “It also promotes recruiting for more soldiers.”

Helping with supplies and sharing his field experiences was Petty Officer 3rd Class Roger D. Barnett, a 22-year-old Navy corpsman with Regimental Combat Team-2.

“All the men here were self-sufficient with the course,” said Barnett, a Waynesboro, Miss., native.  “They taught each other and helped each other excel in this course.”

“They’re now a step closer toward independence from Coalition Force assistance,” said Barnett.