SAQLAWIYAH, Iraq -- More than 50 Iraqi men made the choice to be all they could be in the Iraqi Army here recently.
Marines with C Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, along with Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi police, assisted with a Ministry of Defense recruiting drive here July 5.
“We are here screening men who are ready to join the Iraqi Army,” said 2nd Lt. Gaswan Abdul Hussein, a 22-year-old unit commander with the Iraqi Army. “Men who want to help defend Iraq and make our country a better place.”
The recruiting drive was part of a three-day effort to enlist soldiers for the Iraqi Army across the Al Anbar Province.
They recruits were from various backgrounds, but united in their desire to help rid Iraq of insurgents.
“They are looking for men from 18 to 40 years old, who are literate,” said Capt. Brian S. Middleton, 30, the commander of C Company from DeSoto, Texas. “The Iraqi Army is looking for better qualified men to join the Army, to help create a better fighting force.”
The men were screened at two separate locations during the recruiting process. The first stop was the police station, where the men were screened for age and literacy, and also received a dental exam.
“I had to check out the Iraqis’ teeth to ensure they had the minimum requirement of 22 teeth,” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan M. McKee, a 21-year-old corpsman from White Oak, Pa.
Upon completion of the screening at the police station, the candidates were taken to another location. There the men’s information was entered into a data base to ensure they have never been detained by coalition forces.
“The retina scan allows us to see if they have ever been taken into custody by us,” McKee said. “It is also a way to identify them that is more accurate than a finger print.”
After their eyes were scanned, the men were then examined by doctors during a physical and also underwent a background interview.
“We are screening them to get the best men we can in the Iraqi Army,” Hussein said. “We want men who are here for the right reason and who are physically capable of doing the job.”
Hussein questioned the men about their past and their families. He wanted to ensure the men had genuine intentions for joining the army, in addition to meeting the physical requirements.
“I want the men to be honest with me,” Hussein said, “I want them to be honest about helping the country and the Iraqi people. I want them to be honest about capturing insurgents in the country.”
The Iraqis and the Marines met their quota of 50 new recruits for the day’s drive here. Four of the new candidates were former officers in the old Iraqi Army. If they successfully complete their training, the four will help fill the number of officers in the new Army.
“It’s difficult for them to do this,” Middleton said. “They don’t have full time recruiters to find men like we do. It is impressive they generate these types of numbers.”