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Reform, Training Initiatives Improve Iraq’s National Police

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2007 – The senior leaders of Iraq’s national police are making progress in reforming and improving the country’s law enforcement body, the commander of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team said today.

During a news conference in Baghdad, Army Maj. Gen. Michael Jones told reporters he’s “very impressed” by Iraq’s national police corps’ progress, spurred on by a recent reform program and training regimen overseen by Italian paramilitaries.

“It’s actually quite gratifying to see the considerable change and the progress that’s been made,” Jones said of the roughly 27,000-strong force.

The National Police Reform Program established by Iraq’s Ministry of Interior earlier this year aims to improve police members’ conduct and professionalism. The reform program began after an evaluation of Iraq’s police indicated evidence of significant sectarian infiltration.

As a result, Iraq’s national police commander, Lt. Gen. Hussein, purged both national police division commanders, axed all nine police brigade commanders, and fired 18 of 27 battalion commanders. He replaced them with command teams that equally represent the country’s sectarian makeup.

The replacements, Jones said, were more “capable and committed to professional conduct of the forces.”

“The reform program … is one where the senior Iraqi leadership has certainly taken the initiative to try to move progressively and quickly to ensure that they improve both the conduct and the professionalism of the national police,” he said.

Meanwhile, the newly organized Iraqi police members began retraining at a center in Numaniyah. The general said the final police brigade is undergoing extensive training there.

“That’s an extensive program that not only goes through a re-vetting process,” Jones said, “but, in addition to that, trains police skills and also goes through many of the issues of rule of law, human rights and other kinds of things that you would expect to see in any kind of sophisticated police training program.”

An initiative that began this week pairs trainers from Italy’s paramilitary police force, the Carabinieri, with members of Iraq’s national police.

“They’re known as one of those very special forces around the world of very high-end policing, very high discipline, good conduct and a high degree of professionalism,” Jones said of the Carabinieri. “So we expect to see very good results from that training.

“Proof is in performance,” Jones continued. “As these national police units have come out of training and gone back into the fight, they’ve taken responsibility in a lot of very contentious areas.”

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