HADITHA, Iraq --
Nine Iraqi policemen stood ready to receive their graduation certificates July 15. The policemen graduated from a 21-day course put together by the Navy Riverines with Riverine Squadron 3, Detachment 2, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, who instructed them in basic boating skills. The training was to prepare them for the eventual turnover of security of the Haditha Dam and the surrounding area.
“We will use this training to patrol Lake Qadisiyah and to make the dam secure,” said Bushar Muhiye Khanaf, through an interpreter, who has been on the Iraqi Police force for two years. “The training was very helpful because now that we have learned the basics on how to patrol the river and the lake, we will help train others to make this area a secure place.”
The group of Iraqi policemen were the first to undergo this training with the Riverines.
“I was a fisherman before I joined the police so I am a good swimmer, which is why I got picked to participate in the training,” said Ahmad Hamad Equial, who has been with the Iraqi Police for 20 months. “There were a few obstacles because this is the first course, but if my superiors let me, I want to come back to help and receive more training.”
The policemen and Riverines spent time with each other six days a week for 21 days with the last day punctuated by a graduation ceremony and traditional Iraqi meal.
We had to figure out how to teach them these skills, and in the process we got to learn about their culture,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Tom W. Endress, 25, from Orlando, Fla., who is an instructor with Riverines Squadron 3. “I really loved teaching them because they came out here, they are excited and they can’t wait to get wet.”
The enthusiasm of the both the instructors and the students contributed greatly to the success of the first course taught by the Riverines.
“The Iraqis received a strong sense of patriotism by completing this training,” said Lt. j.g. Daniel W. Harkins, 32, from Philadelphia, who is the officer-in-charge of training for Riverines Squadron 3. “They are just as eager to take over as we are to leave.”
As the Riverines prepare for their next batch of students, they are also hoping some of the graduates of the course will be able to return to learn how to teach the course.
“The Riverines were very helpful, and I want to thank them for all of their efforts,” said Ahmad.