Task Force 1st Armored Division Troops Combine Efforts to Hire New Police Force
By Sgt. Mark Bell, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 21, 2003 Several hundred Baghdad-area residents arrived early in the morning Nov. 13 to begin what could be a career as an Iraqi police officer.
2nd Lt. Kenny Rivera, 38, from Panama City, Panama, a physician assistant with 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Division, examines an applicant's eyes during the first day of Iraqi police recruitment sponsored by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Nov. 13. Photo by Sgt. Mark Bell, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Residents spent hours waiting patiently in line at the Iraqi Forum during an initial application process, run by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
From a brief physical examination to random security background checks, soldiers scrutinized application forms, checked for diabetes and held several other stations to ensure the best 500 applicants would be submitted for possible selection into the police academy.
Applicants ranged from young 20-year old adults looking for their first job to seasoned Iraqi army veterans. "I want to serve my country," said Muafaq Adnan, 31, a former Iraqi special forces first sergeant. "I served my country for 16 years in the army; now I want to continue to serve my country as an Iraqi police officer. I know being a police officer would be much easier than being in the special forces."
Adnan said he was driven to apply because he wants to make a difference in a new Iraq. "I don't want to go through the same tragedies we did under Saddam," he said. "I know we can make a difference in a better Iraq."
Applicants must be at least 20 years old and have a diploma from a secondary school, said Sgt. Chris Miller, 22, from Carbondale, Ill., 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment. After the initial application review process, division medics, physician assistants and doctors gave applicants medical examinations to ensure they were healthy before being selected to attend the academy. For some Iraqis, this was their first-ever exam.
Obesity, uncorrectable bad vision and diabetes will disqualify an applicant from being an Iraqi police officer, said 2nd Lt. Kenny Rivera, 38, from Panama City, Panama, a physician assistant with 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment. "We basically are doing a quick and general head-to-toe medical check to ensure there are no obvious medical conditions that would hinder them in their ability to perform as an Iraqi police officer," said Rivera.
"All the applicants should be fit enough to handle the routine tasks required as a police officer here," he pointed out. "They need to be fast-reacting and to be able to provide protection to the Iraqi people."
From eyes, throat, lungs and heart checks, the staff of three medical officers worked together dividing the body into thirds to move applicants through the process more efficiently and quickly. "We can't do any blood tests or get into deep medicines here," he said. "We are just giving a general check to make sure they are physically capable of completing the academy."
Within four days, the team of several dozen soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and a platoon of infantry soldiers providing security and escort service would see more than 1,000 applicants. Maj. Linda Scharf, the brigade civil affairs officer, said she hopes to meet the division requirement of 500 qualified applicants. "We don't really know exactly how many new Iraqi police are needed," she said in between her introductory briefs.
More important than the basic education, age and health requirements, Scharf hopes the new Iraqi police force is built on a foundation of pride and honor. "We are helping rebuild an Iraqi police that is not corrupt and taking bribes and making a safer place to live for the Iraqi people," she said. "We are basically looking for a good moral character. We have developed a set of questions to help us determine character, but unlike the other requirements, character is a very gray area it's not black and white."
(Sgt. Mark Bell is assigned to the 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)