Iraqi Civil Denfense Corps Graduate at Camp Muleskinner

By Capt. Sean P Kirley, 2nd ACR Regimental PAO

Guardsmen from the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment’s first Iraqi Civil Defense Corps class march to Redcatcher Field on Camp Muleskinner during their graduation ceremony Jan. 9.

Photo by Capt. Sean P Kirley, 2nd ACR Regimental PAO

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The Iraq Civil Defense Corps Academy at Camp Muleskinner graduated its first class of guardsmen last week on Redcatcher Field.

The ICDC School, run by noncommissioned officers and soldiers from the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Battalion, 1st Armored Division, puts newly recruited individuals through a rigorous six-day course.

The new ICDC recruits eat, sleep, and train on the academy grounds, staying fully immersed in the military environment under the watchful eyes of the cadre. The workday begins at 4 a.m. for the students and usually does not wind down until about 10 p.m.

For the cadre, hours are more strenuous, starting at 3:30 a.m. and ending at 1 a.m. daily.

During the 140 hours spent at the ICDC Academy, the students learned a myriad of tasks — from basic rifle marksmanship to traffic control point operations.

The new students arrived to the camp wide-eyed and full of anxiety. As they received their uniforms, one could clearly see the seeds of pride being sown.

Brand new AK-47 assault rifles, still with plastic covers on them, were issued to each student.

Smiles and excited words were exchanged by the new ICDC recruits about how they looked with their new uniforms on.

It seemed that a party was going to ensue at any moment, until the cadre came out and “introduced” themselves to the students. It was made very clear at that point, through highly amplified words echoed to the students by an interpreter that the celebration would come on graduation day, when the long week of training and mentoring was complete.

Until then, the orders came from the cadre, the grounds would be kept clean, and everyone would keep quiet and listen to the blocks of instruction.

There were no questions. The party was over.

The first day of classes, which covered legal advice and regulations, was taught by Capt. Patrick Parson the Regiment’s Judge Advocate General officer.

The second day consisted of basic first aid and life saving skills.

One of the trainers asked how many students had seen a gun shot wound at some time in the past. Almost every hand went up.

During the first two days of training, drill and ceremony was stressed very heavily. The students were introduced to calling cadence, executing orders while marching and keeping in step.

As the week progressed, the cadence calling was turned over to the students.

During basic rifle marksmanship training, the students were taught how to load, charge, fire, and clear their weapons. The students went through a myriad of firing stances — standing to prone. They went through a series of scenarios: reacting to direct fire and traffic control points.

The evening of their last class day was spent practicing for the big day: graduation.

With Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling, assistant division commander for support, Col. Bradley May, 2nd ACR commander and Lt. Col. John Curran, Regimental Support Squadron commander, observing, the students marched onto the field.

With minimal time to practice the ceremony, the platoons marched past the reviewing stand with precision.

They were proud of themselves, what they had accomplished, and what they will accomplish.

“We have worked with these guys up in Sadr City before this. We had a good feel for what they can do well and what we have to work on at the Academy,” said Staff Sgt. Shannon Doucet, 4th Platoon sergeant. “These guys are the future of Iraq.”

Doucet will take this platoon back to 2nd Squadron, 2nd ACR, where they will provide a safe and secure environment for the 2 million people of Sadr City, located in the northeast section of Baghdad.

The ICDC Academy is driven predominately by junior noncommissioned officers like Sgt. Rafael Arias, who was assigned as 3rd squad leader of 4th platoon.

Pvt. Brandon Ritter was also assigned a squad at the academy, proving that even our youngest, least experienced soldiers are awesome leaders. The ICDC Academy Commander is Capt. Mike Gautreaux and the noncommissioned officer in charge is Mater Sgt. Johnny Mackenzie.

With the graduation ceremony at an end, the new ICDC soldiers celebrated.

One platoon lifted one of their trainers, Sgt. Danny Hill, unto their shoulders, shouting “Thank you, thank you Sgt. Hill!”

They were feeling like soldiers, looking like soldiers. But most importantly, after six days of training, they were acting like soldiers.