Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping the Iraqi Borders Safe

A student from the 5th Department of Border Enforcement Academy's advanced noncommissioned officer course jumps a hurdle in an obstacle course Dec. 29 during the class's morning physical training session in their compound on Forward Operating Base Echo, Iraq.
Carlos Carrillo, a retired U.S. border patrolman, plays the Iraqi national anthem, Dec. 29 at the 5th Department of Border Enforcement Academy, as 99 advanced noncommissioned officer course students practice singing in preparation for their graduation ceremony at Forward Operating Base Echo, Iraq.

3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs
Courtesy Story

FORWARD OPERATING BASE ECHO, Iraq – The commands, "parade rest, attention," and "double time" could be heard clearly through the early morning chill Dec. 29 at FOB Echo, but not in a way most American Soldiers could understand.

Ninety-nine Iraqi border patrolmen stood in formation, motivated to start the day. Physical training was first, led by a student who quickly earned the respect of his peers and instructors, according to Staff Sgt. Jammie Tucker, senior noncommissioned officer of the Diwaniyah stability transition team. The team is part of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

The men running to an Arabic cadence were only days away from graduating from the 5th Department of Border Enforcement Academy. It is the largest advanced noncommissioned officer class the academy has seen.

The 5th DBE consists of border patrol, border police, customs, and two quick reaction force battalions. The units cover four provinces including Diwaniyah, Najaf, Karbala and Muthana. The class that was close to graduation consisted solely of border patrolmen.

After physical training, the students ate breakfast, practiced drill and ceremony in preparation for graduation, and then moved into a classroom for instruction. Day 42 of the 45-day-long course was already in full swing; it was only nine o'clock.

According to Maj. Ryan Yedlinsky, an STT deputy team chief, the students had already been through a vigorous course agenda including port of entry operations, personnel searches, check-point operations, reaction to terrorists and suicide bombers, and drugs and weapons smuggling. These topics were taught in the classroom and with practical exercises.

"The students might sit in the classroom and learn about check-point operations for example," Yedlinsky explains. "Then they actually come outside, set up a mock check point and go through what they just learned."

Yedlinsky commends the academy's curriculum but believes the course is more than just a refresher for border patrol operations.

"We want to help them understand what they are capable of as NCOs," he said. "Initiative is the biggest thing we try to instill in the students. We hope they walk away with that."

Yedlinsky explained, until recently, the Iraqi Security Force Noncommissioned Officer Corps was not recognized in terms of leadership. Instead, NCOs took on roles of runners to the officers.

"In addition to explaining the role of the NCO to the students here, we also explain it to the officers that we work with," Yedlinsky said. "We explain to the officers that they are very busy men and can rely on their NCOs. What we are starting to see now, especially in the staff sections, is the officers really using their NCOs."

"Patriotism, honor, duty and service," said Carlos Carrillo, a retired U.S. border patrolman. "Appreciation of their service is what every warrior seeks. Their motivation is commendable."

Yedlinsky explained, with the 3rd HBCT's current advise-and-assist mission in Iraq, American instructors, like Tucker and Carrillo, show the students how American NCOs operate, then let them build their own style of leadership.

"The Iraqis are capable people," Yedlinsky said. "This works for them because they live the culture and they know the people better than we ever could."

Lt. Hider, dean of the 5th DBE Academy, agreed and added a touch of pride to his already growing confidence in his students.

"The students take this course seriously," he said through a translator. "They are the first barrier of defense to protect this country. They should be proud. They represent the Iraqi security forces and they protect the people of Iraq."

The students will graduate Jan. 4th at the academy compound on FOB Echo. Kadom, a student enrolled in the course, said he is proud and happy that he will be one step closer to becoming an NCO and said he is ready to become a role model for his subordinates

No comments: