Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Wednesday, 17 August 2005 14:41 UK

UK-trained Iraq soldiers graduate

Iraqi cadets and Adam Ingram
Iraqi cadets were inspected by Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram

The first Iraqi soldiers to be trained for the country's new security force by the British Army in the UK have taken part in a passing-out parade.

Thirty-five National Guardsmen spent the last three months at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, mid Wales.

They have been trained in military planning and strategy in the hope that Iraqis will eventually take over the Allies' peacekeeping role.

The guardsmen will start to instruct other Iraqi recruits on their return.

The course, based around British Army junior leadership training, took place in both Arabic and English and was said to be tailored for the demands of working in Iraq.

But many of the men - both commissioned and non-commissioned officers - must now keep their identities secret in order to protect their families from attacks by insurgents.

Making an impression

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram took the salute at the passing-out parade.

You have a difficult task ahead of you. Take care and look after your country
Adam Ingram, UK Armed Forces minister

Addressing the men on the sun-baked parade ground, he told them: "It takes a lot to impress a British colour sergeant and I understand they have done that already.

"I truly view you as brave men. You have a difficult task ahead of you. Take care and look after your country."

Also receiving their salute on Wednesday was Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iraqi armed forces, Lieutenant General Nasier Al Abadi.

"We look forward to the time when we will see units from our two countries working side by side in far away countries fighting for the case of peace," he said.

The training at Brecon, he added, was the first step towards bringing the values of ethics and human rights to the Iraqi military.

'More courses'

The course was "a first", although Iraqi soldiers were trained in the UK before Saddam Hussein came to power, said MoD spokesman David Stevens.

Iraqi cadet being trained in Wales
The Iraqi cadets were the first to be trained in the UK

He said it was "likely" more courses would be run in army training centres across the UK.

"They are not being trained to fight terrorists, they are being trained to think for themselves in the British manner, not the old Saddam way of not thinking for themselves," he added.

He said the British Army had taken on the training as it was "something that the Americans know we are good at and we know we are good at".

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