BAGHDAD — The United States has begun training a first wave of Iraqi Army recruits, in recent days putting them through morning fitness exercises and instructing them in marksmanship and infantry tactics, in an effort to gather enough forces to mount a spring offensive against the extremists of the Islamic State.
Military officials here say the first of the American-trained recruits, who answered the call to arms by Iraqi religious leaders over the summer and have completed some basic training under the Iraqis, will be ready to join the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, by mid-February. Pushing forward, officials say the goal is to train 5,000 new recruits every six weeks.
“These are new patriots of Iraq, that have actually signed up, have been through basic training and are now ready to go through some advanced training,” said Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, the American commander who is overseeing the training program. […]