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Scale Of Iraqi Police Force Infiltration A Known Unknown

Iraqi police graduates parade during their graduation ceremony at a training camp in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, 28 September 2006. Photo courtesy of Mohammed Sawaf and AFP.
by Pamela Hess
UPI Pentagon Correspondent
Washington (UPI) Oct 06, 2006
Iraqi police have suffered 12,000 casualties in the last two years, with 4,000 of them killed in action, a top U.S. military officer said Friday. The U.S. Army general in charge of training Iraqi police said Friday there is no way of knowing how many police officers are involved with sectarian militias.

"It's hard to really ascertain how many individuals within the national police forces, or any of the other ministry organizations, still maintain loyalties to militias," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson, commander of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Teams in Iraq. "Certainly, if we asked the question, they won't respond that they are associated with any militias.... We do ask the question, but obviously the response is always no. So I have no idea what the number is," he told Pentagon reporters.

"I can cite for you many, many incidences of police doing a great job in their communities, and these are Sunni- and Shiite mixed communities, and we see a lot of good things happening not only in Baghdad, but throughout the rest of Iraq," he said.

At least 1,200 national police officers of the 8th Brigade were pulled off the streets of Baghdad this week when their involvement in the kidnapping last week of more than 20 Sunni civilians, and the murder of at least seven, came to light.

"The 2nd Battalion of the 8th Brigade has been implicated on a raid of a meat processing factory wherein 22 individuals -- it was a little over 20 individuals were kidnapped, and later, seven of them were found killed," Peterson said.

"What we know is the majority of people that were working in the plants were Sunni, and so potentially this could be a sectarian issue. It certainly is also a crime, and so that is being investigated right now," he said.

"Because the unit and the organization was identified as potentially being responsible for committing this transgression, (the battalion commander) has been arrested. And the organization is currently under investigation. So that's pretty much where we are and what we know," he said.

The brigade of national police, a 25,000-man paramilitary force designed to bridge the gap between traditional beat cops and Iraq's new army, will begin a retraining course within five days, according to Peterson.

"For the past two years plus, they've been performing more military-like tasks -- raids, cordon searches, those kinds of things. They went through about six weeks of training. They had about 15 hours to 20 hours of rule of law, protection of human rights training. But it was mixed on the amount of police training that they received," Peterson said.

All national police are undergoing similar retraining, including a three-week course at a separate training camp in Numaniyah, southeast of Baghdad. The U.S. military has declared 2006 to be the "year of the police" in Iraq. Police, ultimately, are the only force that can defeat a terrorist or insurgent threat because they are close to the community and have the intelligence and local knowledge and trust to get tips on planned attacks and hidden cells of fighters.

But the interior ministry forces had been dogged by allegations -- and evidence -- that the largely Shiite police force is infiltrated by militia members who use their uniforms and authority to kidnap and kill and intimidate their perceived enemies.

In November and December 2005, U.S. forces and Iraqi forces discovered two secret jails run by special police commandoes associated with Iraq's Interior Ministry. Nearly 200 prisoners there had been starved, beaten and tortured. Those two revelations spawned a review of the nearly 1,000 individual jails in Iraq.

Peterson said the new training program will extend to all national police.

"The focused training will be on police skills -- investigations, interrogations, preservation of crime scenes, things like democratic policing, rule of law, protection of human rights -- all of those key police kinds of subjects that are necessary for policemen to know and be aware of. And so that is the focus of that training. And during the course of the training, certainly again we emphasize loyalty to country, loyalty to the constitution and loyalty to people," he said.

That will be followed by additional training at a "national police training center of excellence" where each of the 27 national police battalions will be evaluated in training scenarios.

"And by doing that and training one battalion a month, we'll be able to train all of the battalions of the division basically every two years," Peterson said.

As the training is completed, four of the nine national police brigades will be deployed outside of Baghdad.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry consists of around 188,000 trained police, with 82 percent of them equipped for the job. Of those, about 25,000 are national police. Another 28,000 are border police, who are reported as 98 percent trained and 65 percent equipped. National police, apparently including the brigade pulled out of Baghdad, are reported as 100 percent trained and 92 percent equipped.

Peterson expressed confidence in Iraq's interior minister, Jawad al Bulani.

"(He) is more engaged with the provinces and the directors of police of each of the provinces and calls directly down into police stations to see how they're doing. So from my perspective, I see a lot of positive things occurring with policemen and police forces, and all of this will get after the issue of corruption and sectarianism within the forces of Iraq, or the Ministry of Interior forces of Iraq," he said.

Source: United Press International

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Washington (AFP) Oct 08, 2006
An immediate pullout of US troops would unleash an civil war that could engulf the entire Middle East, former senior US statesman James Baker warned Sunday. "I think that if we picked up and left right now that you would see the biggest civil war you've ever seen," Baker told ABC television on Sunday.

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