Thursday, August 25, 2005

Australians turn school over to Iraqis

Australian Lt. Col. Warren Jolly, a senior adviser to the Iraqi Army Support Services Institute, stands before an Australian flag his training team gave to the school as he thanks Iraqi leaders for a plaque, a replica of the school’s patch, they presented to him during an Aug. 18 ceremony. The Australians turned control of the school over to Iraqi leaders.

TAJI, IRAQ Less than five months after the Iraqi Army Support Services Institute started its first cycle of classes, the Australian Army Training Team fronting the effort has handed control of the school over to Iraqi leaders.

In an Aug. 18 ceremony at the school, Iraqi Gen. Babikir, chief of staff for Iraqi ground forces, thanked the Australians for helping get the school started.

“It’s a very good start,” Babikir said. “There is still more to do.”

The school trains Iraqi Army supervisors and officers in areas such as combat medicine, vehicle maintenance, transportation, supply and logistics. Courses run between three to five weeks. More than 700 have gone through the school since the first classes started March 21; another 400 are expected to graduate next week.

Babikir noted that the Iraqi Army will not be able to function independently in the future without soldiers and officers who have strong support and service-type skills.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq, also thanked the Australian team for its work. The team, headed by senior adviser Australian Lt. Col. Warren Jolly, included 42 staff members and 27 who worked in force protection.

“The Australian Army Training Team did an extraordinary job with limited resources in a short period of time,” Petraeus said. “They’ve established a great foundation for the Iraqi Army to build upon.”

Petraeus said plans call for more than 3,000 logistics specialists to be trained by the end of March 2006 to provide the staff for 109 Headquarters and Support Companies, four Motorized Transportation Regiments, 10 Base Support Units and four Strategic Infrastructure Battalions.

The school has 77 Iraqi staff members working under the commandant, Iraqi Col. Warid. That number should double when the school’s equipment and staffing plan is approved, Petraeus said.

Jolly presented Warid and Babikir with an Australian flag to display in the school as a visual reminder of the strong bond of friendship the two countries have forged. Babikir, in turn, presented Jolly with a large replica of the school’s patch. Jolly was moved by the gift, explaining that he and Warid stayed up late together one night designing the patch.

In his remarks, Jolly praised the Iraqi leaders, instructors and students for their hard work and commitment to the school. He also thanked the interpreters, without whom the school would not have succeeded, Jolly said.

Jolly also said that he and his team respect the bravery of Iraqi Army soldiers and leaders, and their determination to defeat insurgents.

“We hope that you will remember with pride what we’ve built together to help you in that fight,” Jolly said.

"All you can do is say they were fighting for what they believed in and their life had purpose and meaning," he said.

Previous List Random Join Next Grunt's Military Site