Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A genial group of visitors for graduation

We had the fifth graduation since I've been here this past Monday. Back in the states, it was Martin Luther King Day. Here business was getting back underway after Ashura, a Shi'ia remembrance of the martydom of Hussein, great grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him.

But here at the Training Centre, graduation of what has come to be called the "Reconciliation Brigade" was underway. The Basic and AIT group graduating was called the reconciliation brigade because of the mix of religious and geographic backgrounds of the recruits.

It turned out to be a big hairy deal because General Petraeus decided to come. It was an even bigger hairy deal for the National Police because not only did their commander come, but the Minister of Interior, Al Bolani, Hussein Al Awadi's boss, came, as did a well-respected and highly regarded Sunni, Dr. Samarie.
BG Sabar far left, Minister Bolani left in suit, Dr. Samarie in robes

It was a big deal for me because the General's team told me they wanted me to be his escort during the visit. Hey, no pressure- what's a visit between a couple of former grad students?! Lots of preparation time in the SIPR lab and coordination with his handlers and my team of BLP contractors and our National Police Cadre. BG Sabar did a great job with the graduation and lunch functions, and BLP did great work behind the scenes. We even enlisted the help of two other U.S. units on the post and the NPTTs Headquarters group. It was a lot to chew off for just two U.S. soldiers assigned to the Training Center, so it was clearly a team effort. I was proud of how everyone worked together to have the event be such a success that I'm told that General Petraeus mentioned it positively in his morning briefings the next day.

General Petraeus was very patient with the media- they just mobbed him, the Minister, and Dr. Samarie. He was also quite pleasant to visit with as I had more time than I had expected to chat with him one on one. We talked some about personal topics such as my deployment status, but I was also pleased to be able to talk to him quite a bit about the training center.

The Training Center also got a bit of attention in the House Armed Services Committee meetings last week with LTG Dubik, MNSTC-I commander (17 Jan 2008), briefing and responding to questions from the committee. In reading the transcript, I was reminded of how our elected officials like to grandstand a bit- their questions were usually 80% statements and arguments, and 20% actual questions. I think their comments make up more of Dubik's testimony transcript than his comments do. Numaniyah and the National Police came up at least a couple of times then. We continue to do all we can to extend our 15 minutes of fame.


JohnE said...

Major Tucker,
It is good to see a dry and sunny day was had for the graduation.
It is indeed a strange sight to see the rag tag bunch of recruits/students all resplendent in their duty uniforms.
The parade ground clean and not looking like a city street!

I was wondering if anyone would post a photo or two.

Now 4 days after the event I wonder if any harm has come to those who were constantly being reminded not to sleep during valuable lessons, to be alert at all times!
Let us hope the course was not in vain.
If there is a continuation, I am certainly looking forward to coming back.

Dana Tucker said...

I hope to see us reunited soon. And thank you for your work.