Approximately 200 Iraqi Army soldiers trained by Australian and New Zealand military personnel have recently graduated from the Taji Military Complex Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Academy northwest of Baghdad.
The graduates were drawn from 50 Iraqi Army battalions, and received instruction in advanced medical care, weapon drills, marksmanship, navigation, small group tactics and leadership over the last eight weeks.
Task Group Taji commander colonel Matt Galton said the NCO was considered the backbone of any army, as they will pass on the experience and knowledge gained on the course to their fellow soldiers when they return to their home unit.
Galton said: "The aim of the course was to produce confident, disciplined soldiers, who are physically fit, well-motivated and able to lead an infantry squad on the battlefield."
Task Group Taji is the combined Australian-New Zealand military training force based at the Taji Military Complex northwest of Baghdad.
Camp Taji is one of the four US-led building partner capacity (BPC) mission sites across Iraq.
Iraqi Army graduate private Karar Muhawish said that the course is another critical stepping stone on the path to reclaiming Iraqi territory and defeating Daesh militants in the country.
Muhawish said: "I will be able to pass these onto my fellow soldiers which will benefit us on the battlefield."
Deployed as part of Australia’s Operation Okra, Task Group Taji has already trained more than 700 soldiers from the 16th Division’s 76th Iraqi Army Brigade.
The eight-week training programme focused on the planning and conduct of operations, weapon handling, basic tactical manoeuvre, and integration of intelligence, as well as leadership and ethical behaviour in war.
Operation Okra represents the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) contribution to the international effort to combat the Daesh terrorist threat in Iraq and Syria.
The mission comprises Task Group Taji, the Air Task Group, the Special Operations Task Group and a number of ADF personnel fulfilling coalition embed positions and liaison roles.
Image: An Australian Army trainer demonstrates how to drag a casualty during a first aid lesson at the Taji Military Complex, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of 1st Joint Public Affairs Unit / © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.