Lawmakers and News Media: Stupid or Just Ignorant of Iraqi Cops?
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Americans have been fed a steady diet of negative comments by the liberal-left establishment regarding Iraq's military and police forces. Every day someone in congress or in the media makes a comment that denigrates the Iraqi police. I suspect the motive is to turn Americans against the Iraqis as part of the liberal-left's antiwar strategy.
I'll be the first to tell you that the Iraqi police officers, with a few exceptions, aren't ready to go it alone. But that doesn't mean they deserve to be ridiculed or used by some hack politician in congress to score political points with the antiwar left or the news media (forgive the redundancy). Listening to these critics making their condescending remarks about Iraqi cops leads me to believe that they are ignorant at best, stupid at worst.
The US police advisors who've been working to build police forces from scratch have had nothing but praise for these Iraqi cops. Some of those US law enforcement experts who've trained Iraqi officers tell me that, considering the rush to train and deploy these cops, they are performing well.
Does any US major city police department -- who do not have to fight well-armed insurgents and terrorists on a daily basis -- put cops on the street by themselves in a matter of a few months of training? Of course not. In fact, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities require a minimum of six months academy training followed by one year of close supervision when the new probationary officers hit the streets. Not only are these probies supervised by their sergeants and lieutenants, but they are partnered with veteran training officers for their first year on the job.
In addition, for the most part, these newly appointed officers are required to attend specialized training classes at the academy during the course of their early careers. The training may include bombs and explosives, hostage and barricade incidents, unarmed combat techniques, special weapons and tactics, etc. For their first few years on the job, police officers in urban areas of the US live and breathe policing and public safety on a daily basis.
Then, if a police officer wishes to specialize, he will go back into the academy for more education and training which leads to another year of in-service training by a training officer.
Iraqi police officers, at least at this point, do not receive that much training, yet they are thrown into mortal combat with thugs who think nothing of beheading their victims.
On May 15th, the United States honored police officers killed in-the-line of duty. Over 130 men and women gave their lives for their communities, their towns, cities or states. But that number of fallen officers doesn't come close to the number of Iraqi cops who've been murdered, tortured, mutilated and humiliated by terrorists and insurgents. Yet morons such as Sen. Harry Reid make nasty little comments about these brave officers.
Despite the very real threat to their lives, I've not heard of police officers in Iraq deserting the way 250 New Orleans cops deserted their fellow Americans during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. (By the way, during the 9-11 terrorist attacks, police officers are seen on camera running towards the danger, but the New Orleans officers ran away from danger.)
One police advisor, upon returning to the US from Iraq, told me that within six months, the Iraqis created and manned 11 police stationhouses. In New York City, where I worked, it took over two years to build one new police stationhouse.
Last August, I wrote an article about one Iraqi police commando unit. After being trained by police advisors, these officers chose to become police commandos, which required military training and supervision. Below is part of that article:
IRAQI COPS: THESE ARE STREET FIGHTIN' BOYS!
In two staggered columns, one on each side of a busy Mosul street, a group of Iraqi police commandos file on foot away from the safety of Forward Operation Base Blickenstaff and into the uncertainty of mid-afternoon rush hour. They make foot patrols through the streets of Mosul a few times a week, wearing body armor vests, weapons always at the ready.
“These are the street fightin’ boys,” says US Army Staff Sgt. Chris Paschel, who works with the commandos of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade with US Army Sgt. 1st Class Carl Paris. “They are combat tested.”
On a recent patrol, a group of 25 commandos covered roughly three miles, navigating spots of heavy traffic along a commercial district. At one point, gunshots ringing out in the distance forced them to take cover until it was safe to continue. Along the route, several motorists and passersby waved hello or stopped to shake the hands of the commandos and their US advisers, Paris and Paschel. On a street with a local elementary school, a cluster of children ran to shake their hands and ask for candy.
The patrols serve several purposes, Paschel and Paris say. It lets the citizens of Mosul see their security forces at work, and it sends the commandos out in search of enemies. A couple of months ago, the group of commandos captured a high-value insurgent who was identified as having beheaded several people in a business they pass by on foot patrols.
When they go out with the commandos, Paschel and Paris do not give too much direction. The authority for the foot missions is in the hands of the ranking Iraqi officer.
The commandos also go out on coordinated missions. One recent night they set out after dark in search of a man suspected of aiding insurgents. They didn't find him, but they'll keep trying until they do, the advisers say.
Unit cohesion is one of their biggest strengths, Paris notes. So is courage. “They're not afraid to engage a target,” says Paris. “They will go into a fight. And they're very loyal to each other. They'll take casualties [without] running away.”
Paschel and Paris have been working with the battalion since November. In that time, seven commandos have been killed in action and dozens wounded. Three suffered gunshot wounds to the chest in one day at a traffic control point, Paschel said.
But like all good things, there is always room for improvement. “They really need an NCO [non-commissioned officer] corps,” says Paschel, adding that work sometimes slows while a decision makes its way through the officer corps.
Still, they have seen plenty of improvement since they started working with the commandos. Navigating through traffic in Mosul can be treacherous. They travel in pickup trucks, marked in blue to signify police, with two or three commandos riding with their weapons in the open back. Lights and sirens blare continuously, alerting other motorists to get out of the way.
Earlier in the day of their most recent foot patrol, the same commandos made two trips to a forward operating base to pick up boxes of T-shirts, socks, underwear and other uniform items for the battalion. Other than navigating through several traffic tie-ups, the trips were uneventful. On the way back from a third outing, however, the convoy took fire from a building less than a mile away from their base.
As Paschel and the other drivers sped away, Paris and several commandos returned fire. No one was injured. Both advisers say they have confidence in the commandos and their ability to confront the enemy.
“They hate the terrorists just as much as we do, sometimes maybe more,” says Paris. “That's a foundation for trust for me.”
Americans are told by the mainstream news media day in and day out how the Iraqi forces are not doing their fair share. Well, tell that to the thousands of Iraqis lining up to join the police forces. Tell it to the Iraqis lining up boldly to join the military.
These newly freed people are facing severe consequences for their bravery. They face hardships and assassination. They face having their families targeted. They face a future filled with uncertainty. And yet they volunteer in droves to take their rightful place in the war on terrorism. That's right: The War on Terrorism.
I don't much care about what the Liberals in the US think or say. They're not in charge. That's right: The Liberals are not in charge. Who cares if the Liberals don't believe Iraq is part of the Terrorism War? Not me and certainly not the Iraqi cops.
Special thanks to Captain Tim Jeffers, Multinational Security Transition Command, for his assistance for this article.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.