- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2004

The U.S. government has embarked on a massive training program aimed at putting 35,000 Iraqi police officers on the streets of Baghdad and other major cities over the next two years as part of a White House reconstruction plan to restore law and order.

“The establishment of civilian authority in Iraq is key to bringing democracy to that country,” said Assistant Secretary Robert B. Charles, who heads the State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

“It is important that over the next two years, we get security on the ground, police officers who are properly tested and trained,” Mr. Charles said. “It is a goal that we can and will achieve.”

As part of the ongoing program, INL has contracted for a $100 million training facility in Amman, Jordan — a site selected because of security concerns. Training began in November after a joint assessment of the conditions and needs of Iraqi police, prisons and courts by INL and the Justice Department.

Mr. Charles said that in the postwar reconstruction of Iraq, re-establishment of civilian police authority and the restoration of law and order are critical and among the government’s highest priorities.

Without this component of U.S. policy, he said, economic development and democratization cannot take place in Iraq.

“In order to build up the police force to the desired levels over the next two years, approximately 35,000 new police must be recruited, selected and trained,” Mr. Charles said, and the INL has deployed 24 veteran U.S. police-recruitment specialists to Baghdad to help establish a “standardized, transparent Iraq-wide police recruitment and selection process.”

The Jordanian training facility is expected to handle 3,000 Iraqi police cadets at any one time, along with as many as 1,000 trainers and support staff. Training for an initial class of 500 Iraqi cadets began Nov. 29. INL also has deployed 150 U.S. police specialists to Baghdad to begin the field-training program and receive the first graduates of the basic-skills program in Jordan.

Mr. Charles said the United States plans to ultimately contribute and maintain a group of up to 1,000 veteran U.S. law enforcement personnel to serve in with newly trained Iraqi police.

He told The Washington Times that the new cadets will undergo an eight-week intensive basic police education under the tutelage of up to 400 senior U.S. and international police instructors. The course was developed by the Justice Department’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program.

The recruits, he said, will then complete a 10-month structured field-training program in Iraq that will focus on the “practical application of the course work and will further develop their skills in core policing areas.”

Mr. Charles said the 1,000 U.S. police advisers will be deployed to Iraq to help the Iraqi citizens organize effective civilian law enforcement, judicial and correctional agencies.

He said they will work with Iraqi criminal justice organizations at the national, provincial and municipal levels to assess threats to public order and mentor personnel at all levels of the Iraqi law enforcement system.

INL advises the president, secretary of state and other federal departments and agencies on combating crime and international narcotics and crime. Its goals include reducing the amount of drugs smuggled into the United States and lessening the effect of international crime on Americans.

Mr. Charles said the anticrime programs also complement the war on terrorism, through efforts to streamline and support foreign criminal-justice systems and those law enforcement agencies charged with counterterrorism.


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