Thursday, August 28, 2008
Baghdad Transitions 1,000+ Sons of Iraq Into Iraqi Police
http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id=22914 ________________________________________ Story by Sgt. Daniel Blottenberger By Sgt. Daniel Blottenberger 18th Military Police Brigade, Multi-National Division – Baghdad BAGHDAD, Iraq – Four Multi-National Division – Baghdad districts began the transitioning Sons of Iraq (Abna al-Iraq) into Iraqi police, Aug. 21, 2008, by conducting several recruiting drives in the Taji, Tarmiyah, Zahour and Abu Ghraib districts. More than 1,100 SoI members in the four districts began the process of becoming policemen by attending the separate recruiting drives that commenced Aug. 21, 2008 in Tarmiyah and Taji and are now continuing in Zahour and Abu Ghraib. The drives were brought together quickly, said 1st Lt. Michael Huber, a native of Cincinnati, who serves as a platoon leader with Multi-National Division – Baghdad’s 411th Military Police Company, 18th MP Brigade, who said he felt the reason the drives were so successful was because of the local community’s support while working together. “The local Sheiks took an active role in getting the SoIs ready for the drive,” said Huber, who conducts Police Transition Team operations in the Sab al Bour community of Taji. “The Sheiks had the SoIs show up looking professional like as if it were a job interview. They took a lot of pride in being prepared for the drive.” The recruiting drive is a great opportunity for the local people in the community to get good jobs to support their families. “The SoIs really made the most out this opportunity,” said Huber, who reached his district’s goal of more than 500 recruits in two days. Huber said another reason the drive was so successful is because of the local community backing the current IP force in Sab al Bour. In the past, when the 411th MP Co. arrived, said Huber, the local citizens were hesitant when approaching the IP. Now, however, the people in Taji come to the stations with intelligence reports to help the IP in their fight against crime. “We have come a long way in Taji,” said Huber. “Now citizens are reporting criminal intelligence to the IP, telling them where improvised explosive devices are being placed by criminals. The difference now is that the citizens see the IP are truly out there to help them.” In the four districts, there were a total of five recruiting drives that took place to support the transition of 1,100 SoIs preparing to become IP. A platoon from the 411th MP Co. worked its respective districts with its IP counterparts, along with the support from the Soldiers from 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warriors,” 25th Infantry Division, to make the recruiting drives a success. During the recruiting drives, the recruits needed to demonstrate the ability to complete a literacy test, a physical fitness test, a medical examination and a security background check to ensure they were qualified to join the IP force. The goal is for the new recruits to help increase the security level in the districts by providing additional security forces. “Violence in Tarmiyah has increased over the past few months,” said Capt. Norma James, a native of Lawrenceburg, Ky., who is the commander of the 411th MP Co. “By opening more IP stations in Tarmiyah and increasing the numbers of IP in those stations, things can only get better for the citizens.” With the increase of IP forces in the four districts, it will enable the Iraqi army in the area to transition the checkpoints within the city to IP control, which provides the IA soldiers the opportunity to focus its attention on providing security for the country of Iraq as a whole. “New recruits will increase security in the area,” said James, whose company conducts PTT operations in 19 stations across the four districts. “The new potential IP will enable the IA to move into more military based operations along the country’s borders to deter criminals coming in from other countries.” An additional aim for the recruiting drive is to provide local citizens of Iraq with an opportunity to receive a legitimate government-paying job. In the past, the SoI program was a coalition forces initiative to help the security situation within Iraq while, at the same time, gaining support from the local citizens to help deter the past high crime rate. “We are turning SoI into legitimate Iraqi security force members, who can now become proud representatives of the Iraqi government,” said James. Iraqi police are taking over responsibility to conduct community policing and enforce the rule of law while protecting and serving the citizens of Iraq. The SoI recruited from the current drives will now be part of that capable and proud security force.