BAYJI, Iraq- While Soldiers’ training and equipment allows them to maintain security by force in the short term when necessary, the best and most effective long term solution is to turn the responsibility for security over to trained, equipped, and ready Iraqi Security Forces. And while Soldier’s have been able to make substantial inroads in such areas as the training of the Iraqi National Guard, police work and the training of the Iraqi National Police (INP) is one area in which has proved more difficult. While the Army’s Military Police (MPs) are better trained for such specialized work, there are already substantial missions for a limited number of MPs in theater.
One way in which Coalition Forces in Iraq are countering this difficulty is through the employment of contracted civilian International Police Liaison Officers or IPLOs, a solution that has previously met with success in areas such as Bosnia and Kosovo. Working in close association with the Soldier’s of the First Infantry Division’s Task Force 1-7 (TF 1-7), these IPLOs in Bayji, Iraq, provide the required expert capabilities and are helping the Bayji and Sharqat Police to become a capable, professional law enforcement agency.
Mr. Phil Statler, the leader of TF 1-7’s IPLO team, served as a policeman in Clifton, Illinois for 20 years, before becoming an international police trainer. Iraq is also not the first place where he has served in this capacity, having previously served for two years in Kosovo where he was a local police station coordinator. His current assignment is for one year with an option to extend, an opportunity he plans to take advantage of since he has found that “working with the Army is always a good experience.”
Iraq presents some special challenges for Phil
and his team. While working in Kosovo they
enjoyed comparative freedom of movement, but
security threats in the Iraqi Theater of
Operations can somewhat hinder their ability to
move between stations. They are able to move
around in Task Force sector as necessary by
coordinating carefully with Task Force 1-7, but
this is a challenge faced by many other police
IPLOs in Bayji have completed a variety of training programs so far. As well as conducting classroom-based training on the basics of police work, IPLO and TF 1-7 trainers also recently trained police officers to qualify on their Glock 19 (9mm pistol) to the US Army qualification standards. In addition to providing expert instruction, IPLO officers worked closely with TF 1-7 to assist in the coordination for installation of new police radios.
Their most recent efforts have centered on “Train-the-Trainer” instruction, which includes such individual skills as personnel and vehicle searches, countering a force protection threat, and operating a traffic control point, as well as essential police leader/trainer tasks such as establishing a patrol distribution plan, and managing a duty roster.
These “Train-the-Trainer” programs have a significant impact because they give the local departments their own technical experts, enabling them to return to their stations and continue improving the professionalism and proficiency of their own departments with limited assistance from Coalition Forces. Graduates of the program, armed with this knowledge, are able to go back to their precincts and conduct their own training. These programs thus make an enduring contribution and are able to increase the skill and professionalism of the entire department with a limited amount of effort.
A good deal of time and effort of IPLOs in Iraq is spent assessing station, police unit, and equipment statuses and capabilities, and assimilating this vast amount of data into meaningful reports. Having been created last year basically from nothingness, and with a limited amount of experienced police officers, the Iraqi National Police are enduring the understandable growing pains. Communications, and experiential, and geographic challenges also give the INP a limited institutional ability to “see itself.” While this makes Phil’s work a greater challenge, it also means that his efforts will ultimately allow the INP to make its own informed managerial decision based on information he gathers.
Since the INP have been identified by Coalition commanders as an essential part of establishing and maintaining local security, their growth is closely tracked so they may monitor and make informed decisions, giving this data-collecting work even greater importance.
Among the challenges peculiar to the Iraq
mission that IPLOs are learning to overcome is
the requirement to observe the social protocols
and “niceties” demanded in Middle Eastern
Communicating with and understanding an Iraqi policeman requires them to “understand them as they see their culture.” For instance, by heeding social requirements for observance and deference to rank and seniority, especially important in Middle Eastern culture, they are able to avoid inadvertent insults, which can block successful communication.
But perhaps the greatest challenge he faces, Phil thinks, is getting the INP to communicate both “vertically and horizontally” – in other words, increasing coordination within the station as well as between police units and stations. Many of the members of the current police force came from the military of the previous regime. A military background, while helpful in many areas of police work, is not helpful in all areas.
For instance, many policemen who were previously among the higher ranks of military service in the former regime tend to regard junior policemen as “servants and chauffeurs and for a cop to think like that” is just not helpful. However, the IPLOs are slowly getting the INP to see that they are “all on the same team,” and part of a cooperative effort.
The Iraqi National Police, along with the Iraqi National Guard and New Iraqi Army, are perhaps the most important part of the coalition reconstruction effort in Iraq. TF 1-7 commander, LTC Kyle McClelland adds, “the ILPOs bring a careers worth of experiences to the theater, which is perfect for their mission at hand….to assess, develop, and assist in the training of the INP, so that they can perform their security duties without coalition involvement.”
McClelland continued, “Phil and his team are a definite combat multiplier in sector, this can be a very frustrating job for many reasons…but they are professional, focused, determined and diligent in their efforts to make the INP successful”. The ability to turn over responsibilities for security to Iraqi Security Forces is essential for bringing about security in Iraq as well as for stability during the upcoming elections.
Thanks largely to the efforts of the International Police Liaison Officers, the Iraqi National Police in Bayji and Sharqat are well on their way to providing the required security. (Story by Capt. Ryan M. Rooney, Task Force 1-7 Field Artillery)