16 January 2005

Police recruiting drive south of Baghdad draws 1,100
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – Nearly 1,100 Iraqis converged on a police recruiting center south of Baghdad on Jan. 13 to compete for 100 jobs at police stations throughout northern Babil Province.
The large turnout came as a pleasant surprise to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which teamed with local police chiefs to build the local police force. A recruiting call is conducted about once a month and the number of applicants is usually just enough to meet the need.
Marines attribute the surge to increased interest of prominent area sheiks in assuming a greater security and stability role within the province.
Maj. Matt Sasse, operations officer for Battalion Landing Team,1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment – the MEU’s ground combat element – said he believes the Marines’ aggressive efforts to defeat an insurgent-driven campaign of intimidation and terror are paying off.
“These individuals felt safe enough to come here and obviously safe enough to become Iraqi policemen,” he said. “Eleven hundred is a huge number for 100 slots.”
Insurgents have in recent months targeted the fledgling Iraqi Security Forces. In northern Babil, insurgents scored a string of successes last summer before the 24th MEU, which arrived in July, helped Iraqi forces turn things around.
Repeated attempts to destroy the Rashid station north of Mahmudiyah failed. The most recent came Dec. 12, when Iraqi police and Iraqi National Guardsmen decisively repelled a coordinated attack by at least 10 militants using mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and assault rifles. In a subsequent sweep of the area, 34 suspected insurgents were rounded up.
The successful defense of the Rashid station represented an important psychological victory for the local ISF, who were not yet strong enough earlier this year to prevent the insurgents’ destruction of police stations in other south-central cities and towns, including Iskandariyah, Jurf as Sakhr, Haswah and Lutafiyah, according to Capt. David Nevers, a spokesman for the 24th MEU.
Over the past six months, Marines and the Iraqis they’re supporting have spread out across northern Babil province and southern Baghdad, establishing joint patrol bases in previously labeled no-go zones for U.S. and Iraqi forces.
With sustained presence and reinforcing firepower provided by the Marines, the ISF are thriving, Nevers said. Local police, in particular, are growing increasingly confident and capable.
In recent weeks, police northern Babil investigated and recovered a stolen fire truck in Eskan, joined the Marines in searches for weapons and ordnance, stepped up their unilateral patrolling, began manning checkpoints alongside the ING in Tounis and recovered missing equipment belonging to Multi-National Forces.
Though kidnappings and murders have led to some attrition, local involvement as well as joint cooperation and training with the MEU resulted in rising recruitment and improved morale for the ISP.
 Posted by Hello


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