AL QA’IM, Iraq --
The road to becoming an Iraqi policeman is not what it used to be. The training has become regimented, the selection process fares on the side of equality and corruption is rearing its ugly head less and less.
The Iraqi police have made significant gains in their ability to train and maintain their own forces, and Coalition Forces have begun to take a secondary role in the process.
In a push to expand police presence in the area, the latest group of Iraqi police recruits in Al Qa’im, Iraq, took on an 80-hour preparation course March 3-8 before departing to the police training school in Habbaniyah, Iraq.
The course is fast paced and comprehensive. The students were taught medical classes, weapons handling, drill, tactics and physical training.
The Marines and soldiers from the District Police Transition Team of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, helped to provide facilities, equipment and guidance for the course, but Iraqi police instructors took the lead in training their own.
“We used to do most of the training, but now we’re transitioning,” said Marine Sgt. Mitchell C. Soper, a team leader with PTT. “The IP instructors are really good. We leave it to them, and they’re running the course pretty much on their own.”
The students could be heard through Camp Al Qa’im, running in formation and calling cadence as the sun rose. The long days varied from weapons marksmanship at the rifle range to clearing buildings at an abandoned train station.
“The training is very good, very fast-paced,” said Lt. Muaath, an Iraqi police instructor. “We take them from the very beginning, from nothing, and teach them to be the best policemen they can.”
Though even their downtime was filled with learning drill movements, the future Iraqi policemen kept their spirits high and took in all the training they could.
“This is honestly the first time I’ve been through such serious training,” said Muthana Ahmed, an Iraqi police recruit. “I’d say the discipline is the most important thing that we’ve never had training with before.”
Standing staunchly at attention in formation was a new concept for most of the students, but a certain pride could be seen in their efforts to become protectors of their cities.
“Of course, the salary guarantees and the future of my family are a big part of becoming a policeman,” said Wajeeh Rijaa, an Iraqi police recruit. “But the main reason, and I believe I speak for everyone here, is to secure our neighborhoods.”
The students showed a deep respect for the Iraqi police and Coalition Force instructors through the course of each day’s training.
“All these trainers are the best, and there is no weakness,” said Rijaa. “The (Coalition Forces) have shown us their behavior, attitude and discipline through their supervision that will help us to graduate and become good policemen.”
As the students prepare to head to the police training school in Habbaniyah, there are many challenges yet to face, but they are already realizing the key to success: the man to their left and right.
“The most important thing is I’ve met so many people from my neighborhood,” said Rijaa. “Day by day we grow closer, and one day we will eventually be colleagues in the police force.”