Twenty eight Iraqi police officers became certified technicians specially trained to handle what has traditionally been one of the most hazardous weapon in Iraq - roadside bombs - after completing Anbar's first 12-week Counter Explosive Team course at the Ramadi Training Center, Aug. 21.
"Today is a historic day for Anbar," said staff Maj. Gen. Baha Husayn Abd Hassan, Anbar provincial director of police, who attended the graduation. "Before (today), the Army used to deal with the (improvised explosive devices), and we were just looking on. Now, we're able to deal with the explosives ourselves. The (explosive ordnance) department is the top of the pyramid in Anbar."
David Day, CET lead instructor, said his class provided the EOD students the basic tools necessary to counter IEDs-everything from safety and identification to demolition and proper reconnaissance. Each graduate was awarded a certificate of course completion and the U.S. Armed Forces' EOD badge.
"The shield represents the EOD mission-to protect personnel and property," said Lt. Col. Everette Price, commander of the 441st Ordnance Battalion, describing one of the badge's four symbolic elements.
Captain William Erwin, commander of the 731st EOD Company, said this was not only a monumental accomplishment for the graduating class, but a significant step toward assuring the people of Anbar that the Iraqi Police will be able to operate without U.S. military assistance.
"In time they will have to take complete ownership of this fight against the bomb makers and against the people who put these devices inside and around their cities," he said in reference to the responsible drawdown of forces. "This threat is not going to go away for Iraq anytime soon, and it's important that they are able to deal with it, without having to rely on too much outside assistance."
Captain Erwin said his team and Soldiers assigned to the 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, will continue advise, assist and train operations with the new Iraqi EOD team in an effort help build a more secure, sovereign and stable Iraq, including Anbar province.
"We'll conduct combined response operations with the Iraqis in the lead," he said. "These graduates are a fine unit, and they are a great credit to their country."
Article by Staff Sgt. Tanya Thomas, 4th AAB, 3rd ID, USD-C Public Affairs