CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq -- Marines with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion's Company B have begun training new recruits to serve as Iraqi Border Policemen.
The 10-day course, the first of its kind at the Al Asad Police Academy, began July 8, with five Marine instructors teaching 15 volunteer recruits a variety basic policing skills, such as weapons handling and search and seizure methods.
"We're giving them the basic tools they need to survive out there and defend their own country," said Staff Sgt. Yaphet A. Grimes, a 31-year-old assistant chief instructor from Virginia Beach, Va. "They have little if no military experience, so we're taking them step-by-step, but already it's paid off."
The academy will continue to grow as the weeks go on, according to Capt. Carlos T. Jackson, the 31-year-old company commander and officer-in-charge of the academy from Detroit. Every 10 days, a new batch of volunteer recruits will enter Al Asad to become Border Policemen.
Training here begins at 7:30 a.m. every morning with physical training and ends at 6:30 p.m.
"We put them through a variety of classes and have them do practical application," Jackson explained. "We took the curriculum for National Guard academies and police academies and combined them with our own criteria to make the best training schedule possible."
Jackson said his Marines were prepared for the task. They recently finished training Iraqi Special Forces two weeks before the opening of the academy.
"They had much more military experience then these guys, so we weren't really instructing then," said Sgt. Jeremy P. Petersen, a 27-year-old communication technician from Gainsville, Fla. "The Iraqis here though are really willing to learn and want to be here so they're picking up quickly."
Jackson said two of the top students were also selected to be instructors for the future classes.
"We identified two Iraqis capable of learning how to instruct," Jackson said. "Our goal is to teach them well enough to eventually be able to instruct each other, so that soon they'll be using Al Asad as a place to train, but without the Marine's assistance. We would like to work ourselves out of a job."
Marines said they've taken as much from the experience as they've given to the students. The instructors had a sense of doing something greater than themselves.
"This is great," Petersen said. "When we came here, all I wanted to do was help the Iraqi people. Now that we're doing this, I know what I do will help with them securing their country. What we do now will continue to have an effect on future Iraqis."
"This is a very rewarding experience," Grimes added. "It's different from what we're used to and I think it benefits everyone, them and us."
The western borders of Iraq have been a problem area for Coalition Forces. Anti-Iraqi forces cross the borders, supplying enemy forces with men and equipment.
"I think once they have the right skills they'll be able to patrol the borders as well as we do," Jackson said. "They know the language and the people, so it will be easier for them to identify the bad guys. All they need is proper training and equipment."