Monday, January 12, 2009

Iraqi Army Day Parade

Yesterday the British Army trained Iraqi 14th Division celebrated the 88th Iraqi Army Day with a full scale parade and march past in Basra on Sunday 11 January 2009.

Iraqi Army Day is a national day of celebration that takes place annually on 6th January to commemorate the formation of the Iraqi Army. In its 88th year, the Iraqi Army’s 14th Division paraded over 1000 troops, 3 helicopters and 3 reconnaissance aircraft and over 300 vehicles in a march, fly and drive past the General Officer Commanding Basrah District, General Mohammed, at the Shat Al Arab Hotel in central Basra. Also present at the parade was Brigadier Tom Beckett, Commander 20th Armoured Brigade (The Iron Fist) who had been invited by General Mohammed to represent the British Forces in Iraq.

The involvement of so many vehicles and personnel in such a large parade shows just how far the Iraqi Army has come in recent months in terms of their ability to conduct and execute military planning. The parade also demonstrated the improved security in the region, in that such a large event could take place in central Basra. In another positive sign of flourishing normality over 20 members of the local media were also present to record and broadcast the event, ensuring that the local population were able to see their army in all its splendor.

Colonel Abbas Al Tamimi, media operations officer for the Iraq Army 14th Division said:

“The people of Basra are celebrating the stability and security in Basra that the Iraqi Army has achieved and maintained. The people of Basra are now reaping the fruits of this improved stability and security”

Brigadier Tom Beckett said:

“This has been a fantastic parade and when you think that they can put on something like this with so many people and vehicles and it runs like clockwork, it shows how the Iraqi Army has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years.”

He continued:

“As we have seen, after Operation ‘Charge of the Knights’ the Iraqi Army is an effective and capable force able to bring security to the people of Basra. For us, [Coalition Forces] the next big milestone is the elections. It’s making sure that the Iraqi Army and Security Forces are happy with their security lay down and that we can help them in any way that they need to be helped”

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