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Some Iraqis get hazardous duty pay

Army News Service

Release Date: 1/26/2004

By Spc. Bronwyn M. Meyer

TIKRIT, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 26, 2004) - Iraqi Civil Defense Corps troops who have been working with Coalition forces are enjoying the benefits of incentive pay.

Like their American counterparts, ICDC members have begun receiving hazardous duty pay, in addition to their base pay, said Staff Sgt. Laura Blunt of the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas.

Separate from the Iraqi police and the new Iraqi Army, ICDC is a Coalition-trained element that is responsible for maintaining civil order in cities such as Tikrit.

The hazardous duty pay took effect Jan. 1. The Iraqi soldiers are now receiving hazardous pay in lieu of a substance allowance.

Like most military units, the ICDC pay structure is based on rank. The lowest enlisted Iraqi soldier, a private first class, receives $130 a month. In the officer ranks, a second lieutenant receives $180 per month, which is a handsome sum in Iraq's lagging economy, said Blunt.

"(The) ICDC and Iraqi police are the best gigs in town right now," she said.

The promise of a paying job has many Iraqis clamoring for a spot in the ICDC basic training course.

"More people want to join. At every recruiting class we have 600 guys showing up for 150 spots," Blunt said. "They want to do it, they take pride in it, and it's a good job. They get great training."

The 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment has graduated five classes of ICDC soldiers, and has one of the largest ICDC forces in the 1st Brigade Combat Team. The rigorous three-week basic training includes physical training, weapons familiarization and troop movement, said Spc. Marcus Gordon, a Willingboro, N.J. native, and ICDC instructor with A Company, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Rgt.

After graduating, ICDC soldiers now have a chance for promotion in the new army. The ranks of ICDC soldiers are from private first class to lieutenant colonel, although there are not that many officers.

Soldiers must show leadership ability and initiative in order to be promoted, said Staff Sgt. James Loehr, a native of Platte City, Mo., from 418th Civil Affairs Bn. Promotions are based on the soldier's performance, Loehr said.

Candidates must complete an application, health exam and basic training to join. Once the soldiers have graduated they are able to go on missions with Coalition forces.

As time goes on the ICDC soldiers are coming into their own as a partner with Coalition forces.

"It's their country, so they need to stand up," said Gordon. "Now that Saddam is gone, we are putting them on the right path."

(Editor's note: Spc. Bronwyn M. Meyer is a member of the 367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, an Army Reserve unit from Columbus, Ohio.)

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