American Forces Press Service
Feb. 17, 2009 - Three officers from the Iraqi army's training directorate traveled to the United States earlier this month for discussions on military ethics training and character development. Iraqi army Maj. Gen. Abbas Fezaa, chief of the Iraqi National Defense University; Brig. Gen. Mohan S. Reyah, director of the Center for Military Values, Principles and Leadership Development; and Maj. Gen. Sarteab Taher, commandant of the Iraqi Military Academy at Qualachulon, attended ethics training events in San Diego and in West Point, N.Y.
At the International Society of Military Ethics Symposium in San Diego, the officers engaged presenters from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as Canada and Australia, in discussions on character development programs within their respective services.
A key message of the conference was summed up in a statement made by a Canadian Defense Force chaplain, who said, "Ethics instruction is always a leadership issue. The best person to teach ethics is the commander. It is always leadership and ethics, together."
Reyah explained to the group that Iraqi people are guided by three types of principles: family, societal and governmental. The group discussed development of an ethics education program for the Iraqi army within those principles.
During an impromptu dinner address, Fezaa told the audience the Iraqi army now serves the Iraqi people and the country is now more secure than ever.
At the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., the Iraqi delegation worked closely with members of both the academy and the Army ethic centers to gain an understanding of how the U.S. Army approaches character development. Representatives from the Simon Center for Professional Military Ethic presented a comprehensive overview of the character development and "officership" programs for the 4,400-member cadet corps.
The four traits essential to officership were discussed in detail: Warrior, Leader of Character, Servant of the Nation and Member of a Profession.
The Iraqi delegation brainstormed possible approaches to values training in the Iraqi army with members of the Army Center of Excellence for the Professional Military Ethic. The workshop identified competence and character as two equal requirements in U.S. Army soldier development, and explored what it means to be a member of a "profession of arms."
Reyah spoke of the challenges of developing ethics in soldiers and leaders who either do not understand military values or do not want to accept them as a result of 35 years of oppression under Saddam Hussein's regime.
While at West Point, the delegation learned about the U.S. Army's officer career progression and met with the only Iraqi cadet at West Point, who now is in his third year. The trip culminated with discussions with Army Lt. Gen. Franklin Hagenbeck, academy superintendent, and Army Brig. Gen. Michael Linnington, the commandant of cadets.
As a result of relationships formed during the visit and insights gained from the ethics panels, Fezaa said he would "incorporate ethics more deeply into the Iraqi army officer education programs and engage the Iraqi army brigade commanders to ensure that values and principles are delivered to all soldiers and leaders."
(From a Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq news release.)