View Full Version : Ranger school to graduate first Iraqi

05-05-2006, 07:36 PM
Associated Press (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/politics/3841936.html)

FORT BENNING, Ga. — A former lieutenant in Saddam Hussein's army on Friday will become the first Iraqi to graduate from the Army's Ranger School, a 61-day training ordeal that pushes soldiers to their physical and mental limits in forests, swamps and mountains.

"I have a big, huge faith in the future of Iraq and that's why I'm here," said Capt. Arkan, who was identified only by his first name to protect him and his family back home.

Arkan, 25, a lieutenant in the Iraqi army in Baghdad at the time of the U.S.-led invasion, said he felt no animosity toward the United States when bombs began falling on the city in March 2003.

"It was a situation you expect from war," he said. "They were fighting Saddam Hussein, not the people. They came for the people. You have to take these matters professionally."

He will graduate Friday with 185 classmates, including students from Moldova, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Georgia and Greece.

Col. Clarence K.K. Chinn, commander of the Ranger Training Brigade, said training international students has been a tradition since the school's founding in 1950.

"Once an officer gets training in the United States, there's a loyalty toward this country," he said. "We want to build and strengthen our military alliances. What happens with the politicians is a separate matter."