Facilities Protection Force Training
Spc. Emily Donaghy
3rd Brigade Public Affairs
82nd Airborne Division
NASSER WAL SALAM, Iraq -- A class of twenty-five Iraqis completed the Facilities Protection Force (FPS) program Oct. 11 at Forward Operating Base Mercury.
The group of students is the first to participate in the three-day course. Upon their graduation, they became an integral part of the Iraq rehabilitation process.
"We want to train them so when we eventually leave (Iraq), they can take over our duties," said Sgt. Adam Freeman, 1st Bn., 319th AFAR.
The graduates of the course will assume guard duties at eleven different locations including a steel mill and food distribution center in the local area, Freeman added.
The training took place at FOB Mercury, which is a former Iranian terrorist training camp. Paratroopers from Battery A., 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, organized and conducted the training throughout the course.
During the classroom portion of training, an interpreter translated information relating to safety issues, such as how to confront personnel coming through the gate and awareness of your surroundings, said Sgt. Steven Crank, 1st Bn., 319th AFAR.
"We also explained the importance of a prior and post inspection of their respective guard territory," Crank added
The pupils also qualified on an AK-47 range.
"It is important for the men to be efficient with an AK-47," Crank said. "This will be their primary defense against hostile aggressors."
Although 100 men will be working for FPS when the final program is complete, they have only 25 AK-47s between them.
"This issue is being worked on now," said Col. Jefforey Smith, commander, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. "Our intent is for every guard to have a rifle and a flashlight,"
Another issue of concern is how the graduates will be paid. This matter has been resolved by the city council. They will pay the FPS workers once a month. Their salaries range from 70 dollars to 120 dollars, depending on the position held. The possibility of a bonus for a job well done is also being discussed, Smith said.
Some of the graduates have already been appointed to leadership positions. Their success in the course and backgrounds in the Iraqi military determined this.
"These men picked up the training more quickly than the others and will be the men left in charge after we leave the area," Freeman said.
The graduates stood with smiling faces as Smith shook their hands and awarded them certificates of accomplishment. Smith also expressed his appreciation for the graduating class.
"Anything that"s worth having, is worth protecting. I view all of you as the spears that will lead this country to recovery."
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