The Iraqi Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that it will begin accepting applications from Iraqis who want to attend U.S. military academies.
Iraqis between the ages of 18 and 22, who are fluent in English and in good physical condition, can apply to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., said Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari.
“For over 40 years, we’ve been cut off from the world and from technology,” al-Askari said. “And due to the unstable situation in the country right now, it’s hard to establish efficient training institutions. So, we welcome this cooperation with our friend and ally, [the United States.]”
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad did not provide details, but says it is “common practice for the military academies to select foreign students from among our allies.”
“This is a long-standing program intended to build bridges between the United States military and those nations we work with for security around the world,” says Lt. Col. Barry Johnson.
High school and college graduates, as well as students who are currently enrolled in Iraqi military colleges and are within the specified age range, can apply. However, active members of the Iraqi forces are not eligible, al-Askari said.
It was not immediately clear how many positions would be open to Iraqis at the academies. However, al-Askari said, “It is going to be a very competitive process, they have to be very qualified. We’re not going to be accepting just anyone.”
Upon graduation, the students will become officers in the Iraqi military and must serve for a minimum of 10 years.
In June, West Point welcomed its first cadet from Iraq, a 19-year-old identified only by his first name, Jameel, because of security concerns for him and his family. The Air Force Academy also is taking an Iraqi cadet this year.
— Associated Press
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