Three thousand tribal fighters on Sunday (October 21st) completed a training course to develop their combat skills at al-Habbaniya military base in eastern Anbar, an official from the tribal forces said.
The graduates -- most of whom hail from the eastern Anbar cities of Ramadi, Fallujah and al-Khalidiya -- had successfully completed a three-month training course, Sheikh Qatari al-Samarmad al-Obeidi, a commander with the tribal forces in al-Baghdadi, told Diyaruna.
"In this course, the fighters received intensive training to develop and refine their combat skills," he said.
They learned how to accurately aim light weapons and operate sophisticated rocket systems, drive military vehicles, take part in combat in difficult environments and handle explosives, he said.
"The training was conducted by experienced Iraqi officers from the Ministry of Defence and experts from the coalition forces," he added.
Training at Ain al-Assad
Next week, another group of tribal fighters -- primarily those from western Anbar cities, including Heet, Haditha, Anah and al-Qaim -- will begin a similar course at Ain al-Assad base near al-Baghdadi, al-Obeidi said.
The new course, also of three-month duration, will be conducted by Iraqi and coalition instructors, he said.
The tribal fighters will gain skills "in tracking and targeting the enemy in the desert and in controlling border areas, and will improve their physical and military capabilities", he said.
"The new training courses reflect the interest of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command to build and develop the tribal forces' capabilities and to make more use of them in the next phase," he said, which will be focused on clearing "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) remnants from the western desert and securing the border.
Restructuring tribal forces
There is an effort under way to restructure the tribal forces and change their name to the National Guard Forces in Anbar, al-Obeidi said.
Under this restructuring, the force would include regiments, platoons and rapid intervention forces "with sufficient experience and discipline", he said.
At present, the tribal forces are carrying out "significant tasks in maintaining security in the province", he said, noting that they conduct search operations to track down ISIS remnants in the Anbar desert "every week".
They also provide support to the Iraqi forces in protecting the country's western borders, al-Obeidi said.
He noted the need to boost the ranks of the tribal forces by recruiting new fighters, in light of the province's vast desert and its long border.