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Iraqi Police Working Independently, Top Training Official Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2007 – The 200,000 coalition-trained Iraqi policemen and women are an independent force, a top military official told reporters at the Pentagon today.

The force is composed of 135,000 provincial policemen in Iraq’s 18 provinces, 24,000 national policemen focused mainly on Baghdad security, and more than 30,000 employees of the Department of Border Enforcement, which polices the country’s ports of entry and border forts.

“From what I see here on the ground, they are in charge, … and we are making progress,” said Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hunzeker, the commanding general of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team.

Hunzeker, who previously served on the Joint Staff and commanded the 1st Infantry Division as it returned to the United States from Germany, assumed control of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq’s CPATT in October.

Since 2003, Hunzeker said, coalition forces have built or refurbished nearly 500 police stations, 21 national police and emergency response units, 272 border sites, and 11 of the 13 academy sites.

He said that the “no nonsense” approach of Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad Bolani, who discharged 3,000 MOI members for various reasons, has limited “sectarian behavior” from infiltrating the ranks.

“Today, the Iraqis are in control of their police stations and their academies. The Iraqi police have made significant progress during the past four years,” he said. “What I see in how (Iraqi police forces) are organized and equipped for … Fardh al-Qanoon, they are set up for success.”

Fardh al-Qanoon, an Iraqi phrase that means “Enforcing the Law,” is the Baghdad security plan that was announced Feb. 13 and includes initiatives to split the Iraqi capital into 10 districts and create joint security stations in the city.

“When you look at the architects of the Fardh al-Qanoon, (you see) that every zone is given an Iraqi army unit paired with an Iraqi police unit to take advantage of the capabilities of both those organizations,” he said.

This structure, which allows “synergistic teams” to fight together, is the nascent Baghdad security plan’s true value, he said.

“They’ve task-organized within each one of those sectors, to take the advantages of the strengths and weaknesses of both organizations,” Hunzeker said. “In one capability, where you need a police force to do a mission, they have it, and one capability where you need an Army force to do the mission, they have it.”

Hunzeker said that Iraqi police officers, or shertas, who have volunteered for one of the toughest jobs in the country, “clearly want a safe and secure Iraq.”

But echoing comments by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who became Multinational Force Iraq commander Feb. 10, Hunzeker said that progress, “is going to take months, not weeks and not days.”

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