By Pfc. Crystal M. O'Neal
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq — Task Force Marne Soldiers stationed at Forward Operating Base Sykes in northern Iraq hosted a graduation ceremony for Iraqi police officers who completed the Police Essentials Course at the Iraqi Special Forces Continuing Education Center, Jan. 7.
The graduates, all security personnel with the Iraqi police, the Iraqi border patrol and the Iraqi emergency response battalion, learned investigative and security techniques, as well as police skills already familiar to them.
The graduates, from Tal Afar and Sinjar, performed well during the training, despite their different backgrounds, according to Spc. Velvet Conklin, from the 855th Military Police Troop, an Arizona National Guard unit.
"Although the students were from different branches of the ISF, as well as different places, such as Sinjar and Tal Afar, they were extremely professional and worked very well together," said Conklin.
Lt. Col. Howard Hunt, the Iraqi Special Forces Continuing Forces Continuing Education Center commandant, said the training was very similar to the periodic training U.S. police and security forces receive.
"The basis of what we do is continuing education for the Iraqi police, Iraqi border police, and Iraqi army in our area of operations," said Hunt, who is from Fort Richardson, Alaska, but assigned to 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "Like programs in the U.S., we bring Iraqis back to a school-house environment to refresh old skills, learn new skills and foster a spirit of cooperation between the various Iraqi security forces."
The instructors at ISFCEC, according to Hunt, are highly trained and skilled.
"Our instructors [at ISFCEC] come from various security fields and provide subject matter expertise on the latest trends in security training. We have career law enforcement professionals from basic police work, to investigation, to border enforcement," said Lt. Col. Hunt. "Here at ISFCEC, we are truly dedicated to train, advise and assist."
The 16 graduates received diplomas and were congratulated by Col. Ali, Tal Afar District Headquarters top police chief, during the ceremony.
"I would like to congratulate all the students today on this great accomplishment. This is a great program and we want to continue to do things like this to strengthen our forces," said Ali.
The colonel also expressed thanks to the U.S. Army for their efforts and continued support of the ISF.
Hunt said Task Force Marne's main focus is to assist, as well as support, the ISF and the Iraqi people in any possible way.
"Our Motto, 'Strength through knowledge — Security through unity' says it all," said Lt. Col. Hunt. "We are posturing the Iraqi security forces to be able to sustain themselves in the future by providing advance-level training, train-the-trainer classes and adding depth to their knowledge base in order to push forward the principles of rule of law and police primacy."
There are several similar ISFCEC courses scheduled in the near future.