Marching to a Better Future

Story by Spc. James Truitt
13th COSCOM Public Affairs

"This is a historic day," said Lieutenant Colonel Luis Freedman, 130th Rear Area Operations Center (RAOC) Commander, as he spoke to 248 Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, or ICDC, recruits standing on the parade field. "Not only have you graduated from phase one of ICDC training, but you men have taken a giant step for the future of your country."

In a ceremony at LSA Anaconda that lasted less than an hour on February 16, ICDC, company B experienced the military's time honored tradition of basic traing graduation.

"You have worked hard for this moment and you should be proud. I am confident (Bravo) Company can accomplish their mission. You have my respect & confidence." Concluded Freedman.

Phase one, the Army's equivalent of basic training, is a vigorous program focused on skill level one tasks.

"Phase one is seven days training, consisting of vehicle and personnel searches, crowd control, patrol techniques, marksmanship using the AK-47, and basic 1st Aid. We are teaching them how to maintain themselves in a combat environment." Said Marine Staff Sergeant Alan Truesdale, Combat Assault Battalion, ICDC Instructor.

Truesdale added that resilience in battle is the future of Iraq.

"We are not always going to be here. This is their country and we are training them to survive. Survivability is their key to success."

In order to raise the recruits necessary, the local Sheiks were responsible for finding Iraqis to serve in the new IRAQI Army.

According to Capt. Brian Tomblin, 130th RAOC, ICDC officer in charge, Iraqis from all walks of life have volunteered to sign up.

"On the first day we had about four to five thousand people show up at our front gate. Everyone from local farmers to auto mechanics to even prior military, all of various ages were looking to join."

After the initial selection, all of the recruits are the same rank whether they had prior military service or not. Throughout phase one, instructors select the recruits who demonstrate military knowledge and possess leadership qualities for further review.

"Leaders are chosen out of every group to fill battalion slots such as S-1 (personnel/finance) or other administrative positions. We identify personnel that are physically fit, can read and write, and have a military background, basically those who are trying to be leaders, and we put them in front of a board," said Truesdale.

The board consists of ICDC brigade and battalion commanders. The personnel selected are questioned on military tactics and drilled in various leadership scenarios by the council. Individuals approved are promoted to the appropriate positions.

Of the original 258 recruits, 248 graduated. The ICDC trainees who did not graduated were either prior service military officers who didn't retain their previous rank or those who did not adapt to military life. Others still were rejected because they preferred to collect a check rather than be there for training purposes.

"I was here in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, only to come back some twelve years later. I think it's a good idea to give back to the (Iraqi people) and help them maintain a free Iraq," said Truesdale.

Although this mission has been challenged by a limited number of translators it was very successful because of the ICDC Cadre and prior service military recruits," said Tomblin.

With the completion of phase one, Company B will now move on to phase two.

"Initial entry soldiers are told they will learn the basics while they are in training and will learn everything they need to know once they get to their respective units. Phase two captures that concept," said Tomblin. "In phase two, ICDC soldiers will put in to practice what they have learned and will further hone the techniques we have taught them through operation."

This is the second ICDC Company to graduate at LSA Anaconda but the first for the 130th RAOC, a National Guard unit from Tullahoma, Tennessee. "Charlie" Company, the next group to go through the ICDC course, is scheduled to begin phase one within the next few weeks.

"We will train two more ICDC companies." Said Tomblin "When that is complete we will have trained an entire ICDC Battalion."


Marching to a Better Future
(US Army photo by Spc. James Truitt).