Originally printed in The Advisor newsletter from the Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq.
SOUTHERN IRAQ – An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 men
arrived by foot, bus, and other vehicles before dawn Feb.
14, at an airfield outside an Iraqi army base in an effort to
join their country’s army, officials said.
Of that, close to 5,000 made it through a screening process
that led them onto the base, home to several thousand
Iraqi soldiers and a contingent of U.S. and coalition service
members. Most will be transferred to other bases in Iraq to
supplement existing units, officials said.
The process was a result of the largest recruitment effort
for the Iraqi Army to date, said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Anthony
Woodley of the Multi-National Security Transition
Command - Iraq.
During the screening process, potential recruits were given
a literacy test, physical condition check, and questioned
about prior military service. Once inside the base, they
went through a medical screening and received uniforms,
boots and other military-related clothing.
Many recruits showed up with proof that they were serving
when Saddam Hussein’s regime fell and they were subsequently
released from duty. Former Iraqi army Maj. Hussien
Ali Kadhun, 48, traveled about an hour and a half by bus to
“I want to serve my country and fight the terrorists,” he said,
through a translator. Ali Kadhun said he graduated from a
military college in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in military
science. He returned to school to study law shortly after his
release from the army in 2003.
Another former soldier, Hakeem Shaial Hassan, 27, worked
as a farmer after his first stint in the Army. It took him
nearly four hours to get to the airfield with a group of
friends, looking for a job to provide him and his family with
a better income. New recruits earn $420,380 dinars a
month, or about $212 in U.S. dollars, officials said.
“I am proud that I made it,” Shaial Hassan said, through an
interpreter. “But I am sad that my friends did not. They will
have to go back home and tell their families they did not
U.S. military officials were expecting a little more than
6,000 potential recruits. Service members from the U.S.
Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy were joined by
coalition troops, several civilian security personnel and a
few hundred Iraqi soldiers stationed at the base. Several
dozen Iraqi soldiers arrived at the base the day before and
went right to work early the next morning, said U.S. Army
Lt. Col. Mark Harvey, base commander.
“We encountered all friendlies, no bombs and no deaths,”
Harvey said. “So I’m happy.”
More stories like this at the Web site of the Multi National Security Transition Command - Iraq