HABBANIYAH, IRAQ --
“You are policemen, you must protect the people,” said Sgt. Wayne T. Twaddell, the chief instructor of provincial security forces training for Headquarters and Support Company. “You are the future of your country.”
Marines with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, began the first of two 8-day, 80-hour training courses for Iraqi provincial security personnel here, Dec. 18. This single course prepared approximately 60 Iraqis for the Iraqi Police Academy and certified them as security personnel under the Iraqi ministry of the interior.
The same 80-hour training schedule is also being conducted by Company A Marines who are handling two classes themselves, bringing the total number of classes trained by 1st Bn.,1st Marines, to four.
“The goal of the class is to provide basically trained Iraqis who are prepared to attend the IP Academy and will be a legitimate police asset when assigned to a station during their waiting period,” said Twaddell, a 29-year-old Eureka, Calif., native. “I think it’s great, it should be the main focus for all coalition forces working in Iraq. Iraqis securing Iraq.”
The training will teach the Iraqis vehicle and personnel searches, weapons handling, report filing and police ethics and morals, all skills that will be required during their careers.
Although the men must still attend the IP Academy, this may not happen immediately after the course, said 2nd Lt. Russell E. Bennett, the officer in charge of training.
“They sign an agreement that they will attend the Iraqi Police academy on Camp Habbaniyah at its first availability,” said Bennett. “Until then, they receive a minimum pay grade and work at a local IP station until they are able to attend the course. They’re not just going to have a uniform and carry a weapon, they will be serving the community, they will to be legitimate policemen.”
According to Twaddell, the course puts them on the right track to becoming Iraqi Police with solid training. To Cpl. Derrick N. Yazzie, the operations noncommissioned officer in charge for Headquarters and Support Company, it’s also an interesting experience for him personally.
“I teach them vehicle searches, patrolling, basic marksmanship and also weapons safety rules and maintenance to prepare them for the range,” said the 22-year-old, Thoreau, N.M., native. “I enjoy this because it makes me feel like I’m doing something to actually help Iraq.”
But that isn’t the only reason he enjoys the training, said the 2003 Thoreau High School graduate.
“It’s also good to learn other cultures, how they grew up and their religion compared to mine,” said Yazzie. “I’m 100 percent Navajo. My culture is the Navajo tradition and religion. I can read and write my language fluently. We pray to mother earth, father sky and also God. They pray to Allah and must wash their feet and hands before prayer. Today, I noticed that they washed before they came to God. We all have different rules and that’s just one more thing I’ve learned out here. I enjoy the training and the knowledge I can pass off to them and they pass to me. It’s an important step.”
Yazzie and his fellow instructors all feel that the training is vital for continued positive progression and they all enjoy it for different reasons.
“I enjoy it also, but my big thing is (1st Bn., 1st Marines) does an outstanding job of securing the AO. What really matters is how well these guys can hold the AO,” said Twaddell. “The more confident they are in their capabilities, the more they are willing to be aggressive against the insurgency and the calmer the AO will become. With these guys securing the area, there won’t be a need for coalition forces.”
Bennett also feels the area is coming closer to being ready for the Iraqis to assume full responsibility.
“Using this course, we try to get as many Iraqis properly trained before we have to turnover with the next unit, so we don’t just drop this program on their doorstep,” said Bennett. “But the main reason, is because the area warrants it. There is no need for a heavy handed control anymore, it’s about policing now and this training is another important step in the process.”
The training has been a success for both the Americans and Iraqis, said Ahmed K. Mater, a 42-year-old, Jazeera, Iraq, native, who is taking part in the training.
“I want to defend the Iraqi People and make Iraq safe again,” said Mater. “This training is good because I see and learn things here that I have never seen or learned before. This will make me a better recruit for when I go to the Iraqi Police Academy and will help me protect what I love, my people.”