Trainer Calls Police Development Critical to Iraq’s Stability
By Kristen Noel
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2008 A senior member of the team working to grow and professionalize the Iraqi police force briefed online journalists and “bloggers” on progress and challenges in a conference call yesterday.
Air Force Col. John Probst, deputy director of plans and assessment for the Civilian Police Assessment Training Team, said the team is working toward Iraqi police being able to control provinces and cities independently of coalition and Iraqi army forces.
The team works with Iraq’s Interior Ministry, and “our goal is, day to day, to see (Iraqi police) get stronger; our goal is to see the army in an army role, vs. a policing role,” Probst said.
Civilian police control is “sporadic” throughout Iraq now, he acknowledged, with more success in provinces with organized concerned local citizens programs. “We see CLCs assisting this push for stability and security and taking some ownership of an area and assisting the police,” he said.
To expand police capabilities so coalition forces and the Iraqi army can begin to leave cities and villages, the Interior Ministry must improve its police training programs and supply system, Probst told the journalists. The 15 existing police training centers generally only offer basic certification for enlisted officers, he said. Though setting up those centers made for a good start, “It’s not enough today,” he said.
Probst said CPATT is working with the ministry to set up large police academies that will provide commissioned officer courses and three-year college degrees, in addition to basic training. “We’ll see full-fledged, large training centers and academies that can handle over a thousand people in a class,” he said. An ongoing effort is in place to improve the nationwide logistics system for equipping and supplying civilian police forces, he added.
“Right now, we’ve got a couple central warehouses,” he explained. “(Civilian police forces) have to come in to get the items, and for a variety of reasons, that is labor intensive,” he said. “(It) takes time, takes fuel, (and) puts them, in some cases, on long trips that can be risky.”
“What we are steering toward has got to be an Iraqi solution,” Probst said, referring to the overall effort to develop an effective, sustainable Iraqi police force. He noted that police in Iraq can’t yet work in the way police in the United States do.
“Back home we’re used to very proactive police,” he said. “The policing here is a lot more of a reactive endeavor, and has been for some time.”
(Kristen Noel works for the New Media branch of American Forces Information Service.)