11,000 sing up for new Iraqi army

Thursday, July 31, 2003

The United States will begin training Iraq's new military this weekend.

Officials said the training program will begin on Saturday. They said the program was delayed because of intense U.S. search-and-destroy operations of Sunni insurgents northwest of Baghdad.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, head of the U.S. military in Iraq, said more than 11,000 people have expressed interest in enlisting for the new Iraqi army. Sanchez said on July 23 that the first battalion of the new Iraqi army would begin training within 10 days.

Officials said 12,000 Iraqis will be trained in 2003 for the new army. By the end of 2005, the Iraqi army is projected to number 40,000, Middle East Newsline reported.

At the same time, the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division is training Iraq's paramilitary forces. Officials said the 101st is training a new class of officers for the Iraqi Facility Protection Force, which provides security at power plants, water treatment plants and other public works facilities.

Gen. Harty Schwartz, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the 101st Airborne is also training Iraqi police officers at academies throughout the northern area of Mosul. On July 26, 60 police officers were graduated.

Schwartz also said military police from the 1st Armored Division have begun training a second class of Iraqi police officers. The course is part of the training integration program in Baghdad that currently includes some 200 officers "Once the program is fully operational, more than 4,000 Iraqi police will have completed the course," Schwartz said.

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