Iraqi army celebrates 98th anniversary of its founding
By Khalid al-Taie
Iraqis on Sunday (January 6th) commemorated the 98th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi army with a military ceremony in Baghdad.
The Defence Ministry held a military parade at the 1st Military College that was attended by Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, senior government officials, military commanders, parliamentarians, civic activists and citizens.
The Iraqi army "has succeeded in its mission of defence and liberation and has performed well in the war on terrorism", Abdel Mahdi said in a speech.
"Alongside this difficult mission, [the army] has carried out its duty to maintain security and stability," he said.
The Iraqi army has succeeded in restoring peoples' trust, he said. "We are witnessing today the most wonderful forms of co-operation and harmony between the members of our armed forces and citizens."
The army "will continue to pursue the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS) in the country and prevent it from exploiting breaches on the border and regional and international developments to resume its criminal activities", Abdel Mahdi added.
Army division, operations commands and official and civic institutions also held various celebrations to mark the occasion.
Rejuvenating the army
The Defence Ministry continues to raise the Iraqi army's skills and capabilities in terms of training and armament, the ministry said.
"We have many plans to rejuvenate our army," ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji told Diyaruna Monday.
"We are working to raise our soldiers' skills and combat experience with training programmes that enjoy assistance from the international coalition and NATO forces," he said.
"We seek to arm them with the latest skills and equip them with advanced weapons, equipment and military technology to perform their duties to the fullest extent and to protect our country," he said.
The Iraqi military establishment has seen quality leaps in improved performance in recent years, al-Khafaji said.
"After ISIS terrorists invaded our territory, the army went through a difficult period in its history," he said, "but it has overcome the challenge and has built its capabilities to become stronger and more efficient than ever."
"The army has managed in record time to achieve an honourable victory over the terrorists, thus restoring the people's trust and its reputation and historic standing," he added.
"Our army has also earned the respect and appreciation of the international community," al-Khafaji said.
"Army Day is a holiday for all Iraqis," said 43-year-old Baghdad resident Hussein al-Budairi.
The members of this institution over the decades have represented a solid wall of defence for the country, he told Diyaruna, adding: "Our pride in them increased after they defeated the terrorists and liberated the country."
University of Baghdad student Saja Mohammed, 19, said she was proud of the Iraqi army.
"Today we feel safe and stable thanks to the heroism and sacrifices of our army and other forces who fought ISIS and achieved the greatest of victories," she told Diyaruna.