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Iraqis Eager, Willing to Protect Their Community
American Forces Press Service ^ | Pfc. Brian Jones, USMC

Posted on 08/05/2007 12:57:28 PM PDT by SandRat

FALLUJAH, Iraq, Aug. 5, 2007 – Weary of the violence to which their community has been victim, residents of the Andaloos district here have organized a Neighborhood Watch to keep watch against insurgent activity.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Iraqi men of the Andaloos district of Fallujah wait in the hot sun July 30, 2007, to be selected as recruits for the new Neighborhood Watch program set up in their community through the efforts of Marines, Iraqi Army, Iraqi police and local community leaders. The program is part of ongoing Operation Alljah to transform the communities within Fallujah to provide security, civil assistance and economic recovery. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Brian D. Jones

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“For anything to be able to take place and work long term you have to have security,” said Chief Warrant Officer Steven M. Townsley, the Civil Affairs Group officer in charge for 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “It doesn’t matter how many guns, tanks or bombs you have. Unless you have the will of the people, you’ll never have security.”

The Neighborhood Watch program is part of ongoing Operation Alljah to transform the communities within Fallujah to provide security, civil assistance and economic recovery, according to U.S. military officials.

“Who better to defend the terrain than those who live there?” asked Capt. Mark C. Cameron, the assistant operations officer with 2nd Battalion 6th Marine Regiment. “We’re working towards common goals to remove the insurgency’s presence as well as providing an opportunity for an economic base to build on in the area.”

As part of Operation Alljah, barriers were placed in the roads to form road blocks and entry control points for the community. Cameron took care to let the district residents know the barriers were in place not to keep them in, but to keep the terrorists out. This maneuver is intended to create the conditions the district needs to effectively enforce the rule of law, and lead them to control their community independently of coalition forces, he said.

Iraqis of the neighborhood are recruited for the Neighborhood Watch to be auxiliary policemen to reinforce the more formal Iraqi Security Forces. As watchmen they will be expected to perform three tasks: wear the uniform, follow the orders of the Iraqi Police and most importantly, treat the citizens of the Andaloos district and Fallujah with dignity and respect.

“You will be the ones who the people of Fallujah and the people of this district will look to, to make decisions,” Cameron told the recruits.

Over a loud speaker, men throughout the neighborhood heard about the opportunity to serve their community by taking part in the Neighborhood Watch program. Despite the sweltering, triple-digit heat, a mass of local men came to the precinct and stood in line for the better part of the day bearing the day’s heat.

“It’s very positive from our perspective to see the enthusiasm from the local nationals and (their willingness) to do it themselves. In the past it hasn’t always necessarily been the case,” said Cameron. “The (Iraqi police) obviously have had a high operational tempo and they’re reinvigorated when they see the willingness from the local nationals.”

The selected recruits were required to file through a screening process conducted by the battalion staff. The process is composed of a battery of tests, including functional literacy, medical screening and criminal background check.

After being determined fit for duty, the recruits received their badges and uniforms. After they had been fully processed they attended a swearing in ceremony, took an oath to remain loyal and to treat their fellow Fallujans with dignity and respect and received a food bag to carry home to their families.

The following day they begun a month of fundamental training, led by Iraqi soldiers, learning weapon proficiency, weapon handling, safety, patrolling techniques, searching procedures and how to use them effectively.

Men who are signed on for the job are not required to quit their jobs to be a watchman. However the men will be compensated for their work under a contract to be paid an amount of $50 a month for three months. This will make a considerable increase to their average income, and contribute to economic growth.

“The most exciting part about this is that Iraqis have stood up, they’re enabled,” said 1st Lt. Brian P. Mahon, executive officer, Company E, 2nd  Battalion 6th Marine Regiment. “I think some people feel frustrated. They want to help. They want to step forward, but there wasn’t really conditions in place in their local community to participate in their local governance and you can see that frustration with a lot of the Iraqi people. This is giving them a chance to change things.”

(Marine Pfc. Brian Jones is assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6)

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: eager; frwn; iraqis; willing

1 posted on 08/05/2007 12:57:46 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: 91B; HiJinx; Spiff; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; Grampa Dave; ...

WAR News at Home and Abroad You'll Hear Nowhere Else!

All the News the MSM refuses to use!

Or if they do report it, without the anti-War Agenda Spin!

2 posted on 08/05/2007 12:58:26 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Is this similar to the old Phoenix Program?

A good idea and the 50 a month will also give incentive not to help the terrorists.

A smart plan indeed.

3 posted on 08/05/2007 1:10:27 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: padre35

Police recruiting blitz finds Iraqis eager

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, November 10, 2007

Scott Schonauer / S&S
Air Force Senior Airman Justin Consley (right), an airmen with Detachment 3, 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, and an Iraqi policeman (top left) time an Iraqi police recruit in the 100-meter run in Baghdad.
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Scott Schonauer / S&S
Iraqi police recruits stand in line during an all-day screening. Coalition forces are trying to help Iraq’s Ministry of Interior hire thousands of new police for Baghdad in hopes of putting many of them in place before the U.S. military “surge” in forces leave early next year.
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Scott Schonauer / S&S
Iraqi police recruits complete their applications.
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Scott Schonauer / S&S
Army Spc. Paris Taylor (left), assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, and Air Force Staff Sgt. J. Osborne (right) check the paperwork of Iraqi police recruits.
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Iraqi men answering the call to become police officers sat for hours in the dust and sun waiting their turn. On what American soldiers called “Recruitment Day,” hundreds of potential recruits then went through a battery of tests to see if they had what it takes to carry a badge in Baghdad.

While a few showed off some impressive athletic skills during the fitness exam, many struggled to do a single push-up and most couldn’t lift their chin over the bar for an official chin-up.

No matter.

The Iraqi government and coalition forces are on a recruiting blitz for police officers in hopes of hiring thousands to fill the ranks. The goal is to put the new cops on the streets by the time President Bush’s “surge” of American troops in Baghdad ends.

While violence is down across the country, the prospects of that trend continuing and becoming more permanent in this sprawling metropolis could hinge on the effectiveness of its fledgling police force.

The Iraqi Police commander in the city’s East Rashid area said law and order is improving, but he needs to add 1,500 new officers to the 700-member force.

“The situation is better,” Col. Hamid said. “But we need more [police]… many more.”

Soldiers with the 2nd Cavalry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, along with airmen from the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron’s Detachment 3, helped conduct the screening on Wednesday.

The Fort Carson, Colo.-based 2nd Battalion is nearing the end of its 15-month deployment to the district, one of the most dangerous parts of town because of its mixture of Sunni and Shiite residents.
Risks and challenges

Finding applicants is hardly a problem in a city with high unemployment, but the hiring spree is laden with risks and challenges. There are not enough Sunnis in the Shiite-dominated and -controlled police force, and getting them through the hiring process and academy has been slow. Applicants who applied this past May are just now going through training.

“And they were Shiites,” said Capt. Joe Caudle, who organized the recruiting.

There are concerns that once the recruits graduate the new police stations won’t be ready and there won’t be enough supplies to equip them. The quality of the recruits also is an issue, and corruption continues to be widespread.

To increase the numbers, it also means that Iraq’s Ministry of Interior is accepting some recruits who once were part of the insurgency. That includes enlisting neighborhood mafia-type vigilantes who have been operating outside the law.

“You empower those dudes, for better or worse, it turns into a quiet neighborhood,” Caudle said. “So, now the goal is to take their little mafia group and give them a little bit of legitimacy by making them actual [Iraqi policemen.]

“As long as you’re not al-Qaida, you’re cool.”
Hundreds apply

Community leaders put out the word that the police were recruiting, and hundreds responded. Over a three-day period, recruiting drives have attracted as many as 800 people in one day. Some showed up hours before the screening started so they could get first in line.

The screening process included a literacy test, fitness exam and medical check. Soldiers took digital pictures of each applicant.

The rising number of people wanting to police their own neighborhoods is a sign that al-Qaida in Iraq has lost the hearts and minds of the residents, soldiers say. They point to one incident that illustrates how far al-Qaida has dropped in stature. Earlier this year, men believed to be al-Qaida shot a mother and 5-month-old baby. Although the mother died, Army medics rushed to the aid of the infant and saved his life.

Residents on that block who heard or witnessed what happened have not forgotten, and things have started to take a turn for the better.

Restoring law and order to neighborhoods will soon rest on young recruits such as 24-year-old Abdul Rahaman. He and three of his friends came to the police tryout. They said they were too scared to consider becoming cops before because they or their families would have been killed, but the improved security situation inspired them to apply.

“There are a lot of people that are suffering and we want to make some kind of change,” Rahaman said. “You see that hundreds have come here to prove that they want to do this for their communities and their families.”

Coalition forces want to put police officers in their own neighborhoods because they know them so well and they have a vested interest in protecting them. However, they also want to create mixed police departments of Sunnis and Shiites. That’s not easy. But if it works, soldiers believe they won’t be needed as much. Time is running short, however.

“That is the way to get out of this place,” Caudle said.

4 posted on 11/09/2007 7:10:26 PM PST by Jet Jaguar (Who would the terrorists vote for?)
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