First 400 soldiers in new Iraqi army off to basic training

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

The United States has begun training a new Iraqi army.

The first batch of Iraqi recruits was comprised of 400 people. The recruits were taken to a U.S. military base northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk for two months of basic training.

Another 400 recruits will be trained in another location in August, officials said. They did not identify the location of the training.

Officials said the eligibility requirements for the Iraqi military set an age range of between 18 and 40, Middle East Newsline reported. Soldiers up to the rank of colonel in the disbanded Iraqi army can apply to join.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, head of U.S. forces in Iraq, said the first stage was meant to train an Iraqi battalion composed of 1,000 soldiers.

Sanchez said the Iraqi military would be trained to "protect its own sovereignty over time."

The United States plans to complete the formation of a light infantry division of 12,000 Iraqi soldiers by the end of 2003. Another two divisions are planned to be formed by 2005.

The salaries will range from between $60 and $120 a month. Those soldiers in training will receive the lower figure.

Under the U.S. regulations, recruits must pledge to serve at least 26 months in the army.

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