FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Despite threats from the insurgency, recruits continue to step up to serve.
The Iraqi police departments of Fallujah and Habbaniyah enlisted 67 Iraqis Sept. 10 at a military facility outside of Fallujah to serve as police officers in their respective hometowns.
“The most important point is that people want to protect their town,” said Iraqi Lt. Col. Khalid Hummade, the executive officer of 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division. “They used to be afraid, and now they are not.”
“I want to support my family and protect my town and country,” said one Iraqi applicant through an interpreter.
“I want to join to protect my town and country,” echoed another.
The recruiting drive was coordinated by the Iraqi Police in conjunction with the Iraqi Army, Marines, sailors and U.S. Army soldiers.
“The primary focus is obviously to continue to build the IP forces,” said Lt. Col. Race Roberson, the 42-year-old Regimental Combat Team 5 police implementation officer from Stafford, Va. “The second goal is to have the IA and the IP working together in order to make a safer Fallujah.”
Lt. Col. Bob McCarthy, the 41-year-old RCT-5 police transition team leader in the Habbaniyah district from East Bridgewater, Mass., expressed similar thoughts concerning the continued integration of the police in Habbaniyah.
“It’s the year of the police, and the number-one priority of manning, training and equipping a capable police force is recruiting capable police officers,” he said.
In accordance with IP recruiting regulations, applicants completed the requisite paperwork and were administered medical evaluations, physical fitness tests and security screenings.
Navy Seaman Apprentice Bradley Jones, a 22-year-old hospital corpsman from St. Louis, assisted in the medical assessments of the Iraqi applicants.
“I am just trying to help out the Iraqi people,” he said. “They’re pretty brave coming out here – some of them have to hide their faces.”
The physical-fitness portion of the evaluation was supervised by Sgt. Charles Upson, a 40-year-old operations chief from Steamboat Spring, Colo.
“I think its great – just the fact that it is occurring and the Army is helping out… their army, our army, our Marines,” he said. “They look motivated.”
“The fact they came out of the city proves to us that they’re motivated,” Roberson added.
The applicants will be transported to the Jordan International Police Training College to undergo eight weeks of law-enforcement training.
Currently, 1,800 police operate within the Fallujah district and approximately 500 in the Habbaniyah district.