AL ASAD, Iraq -- Sixty-one newly trained Iraqi Border Police graduated from the Al Asad Border Police Academy here Oct. 3 and returned to their border forts to secure the borders of their homeland.
The Marines of Company C, 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion, 1st Marine Division, trained the graduates for 15 days to be a more effective border force.
"The Marines have taught us a lot of things, from vehicle checkpoints to defending our forts," said 1st Lt. Kareem Kanosh, student at the academy from 3rd Battalion, Iraqi Border Police. "They have taught us how to do our job. We want to show them the fruits of their labor."
Company C took over the responsibility of training border recruits from Company B, 3rd Amphibious Assault Battalion, 1st Marine Division. This was their first class.
"We have trained over 400 (border police) students through the academy," said Col. Brain Tucker, commanding officer of the Civil Affairs Group, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division. "They are motivated and capable of providing increased security and protecting the territorial integrity of Iraq."
The Iraqis have been taught basic first aid, weapons safety, suspect handling, handcuffing and elements of the Marine Corps Marital Arts Program.
Due to the increased number of attacks on Iraqi border forts, the 12-day course was extended three days in order to teach the students how to defend their positions, said Sgt. Heath A. Fernald, senior instructor.
The students were put in defensive positions at a mock police station and the instructors attempted to infiltrate their lines.
"The students did just as they were taught," said Fernald, 23, a native of Erie, Pa. "We tried to break their lines just before dawn and they took us captive."
Once the Marines were apprehended, the students took them into a holding cell as they were instructed to do during the classroom portion of the course.
"We got a lot of information from the Marines. They do a great job," said Capt. Mosadek Abed al Majeed, a student with 3rd Battalion, Iraqi Border Police.
The students not only learned how to establish a defense, they were taught how to move on the offense with fire and maneuver drills. The students put this knowledge into practical application on the firing range.
The Iraqi officers quickly took to leadership roles, taking the instruction from the Marines and leading their fellow students, according to Master Sgt. William D. Freeman, chief instructor. The Marines instructed the class on the proper techniques required to safely move through the drills.
The Iraqi officers followed the enlisted border policemen down the range directing fire and movement. Marines shadowed the officers, providing advice on how to run the course.
"They speak the language and it is easier for them to instruct the enlisted Iraqis," said Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Spaulding, 21, a native of Milwaukee.
The students also critiqued each other and gave each other advice on how to improve, said Staff Sgt. George A Frick, 34, a native of Hemphill, Texas.
The course is constantly being revised, enabling the students to learn more efficiently. The course will be lengthened to 28 days before the next cycle to include further instruction on defending posts and preventing terrorist attacks.
The added days will also enable the Marines to get more hands-on time with the students, said Freeman, 42, a native of Birmingham, Ala.
The interaction has given the Marines a better understanding of Iraqi culture and customs.
"It is nice to be able to do something positive for the future of Iraq," said Fernald. "They have really changed my outlook on the future of this country."
Seeing the students graduate has given the Marines a sense of pride and accomplishment.
"I really enjoy coming to work knowing that what I am doing is making a difference and is helping the Iraqis take control of their own country," said Spaulding. "Once they do that we will get to go home."