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Pentagon opposes disbanding Iraqi police

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 5, 2007
The Pentagon said Wednesday it opposed dismantling the Iraqi police, contrary to recommendations in a military report calling for a complete overhaul of the country's police forces.

"We do not believe it is necessary to disband the national police force," said Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell.

But Morrell acknowledged the problems cited in the report by a commission led by General James Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe.

The commission concluded that the 26,000-strong force needs to be purged of corrupt officers and Shiite militants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization.

"We also acknowledge there have been real sectarian problems within the national police force. We recognize that. The Iraqi government recognizes that," Morrell said.

He said instead the Pentagon is attempting to reform the police without a sweeping dissolution of the body.

"We've tried to re-vet, retrain and then reintegrate police officers back into the force in hopes of ridding it of its sectarian biases," he said.

Morrell said that the Iraqi government had already fired two division commanders and nine brigade commanders deemed too sectarian as part of the process.

"I think the view of this building is that it's too soon to give up on the Iraqi national police force," he said.

The commission said training and professionalism in the Iraqi army was more than satisfactory, though it would take up to 18 months before Iraqi soldiers could assume responsibility for security.

Morrell would only say that it will take "some time" to reach that point.

"We're committed to stay as long as it takes to help the Iraqi army get back on its feet to the point that they are able to take on the normal functions of an army, which is not to focus internally, but to focus on defending the borders," he said.

"It's going to take some time to happen ... I don't know if it takes 12 months. I don't know if it takes six months. I don't know if it takes longer."

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Military Matters: Growing chaos in Iraq
Washington (UPI) Sept. 4, 2007
As good news continues to flow from the U.S. "surge" -- some of it true, some of it false, and all of it spun -- it is easy to forget the bottom line. The bottom line is whether we are beginning to see the re-emergence of a state in Iraq. Recent news stories throw some light on that question, and it is not a favorable light. (William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.)

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