- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006


About 4,000 Iraqi police have been killed and more than 8,000 injured over the past two years, the U.S. commander in charge of the police training said yesterday.

Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson also said that it is hard to tell how many militia members have infiltrated the police forces, but said Iraqi officials are trying to weed them out.

“I have no idea what the number is,” said Gen. Peterson, commander of the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team in Iraq. “Certainly if we ask the question, they won’t respond that they are associated with any militia. … It’s something we continue to look for. We do ask the question.”

Noting the more than 12,000 police casualties since September 2004, he said there are many police who are loyal to the country and “they’ve paid a great price.”

Speaking from Baghdad, Gen. Peterson told Pentagon reporters that all together about 186,000 Iraqi police have been trained, toward the goal of 188,000. He said training and assessments of the Iraqi police are continuing, and officials expect to exceed the goal by about 10,000 by the end of the year.

Of those already trained, at least 133,000 are Iraqi police, roughly 24,000 are Iraqi National Police, and about 27,000 are border patrol officers.

Iraqi authorities on Wednesday pulled a brigade of about 700 policemen out of service in their biggest move ever to uproot troops linked to death squads. The brigade is suspected of allowing gunmen to kidnap 24 workers from a frozen-food factory in a district of Baghdad where the Shi’ite Mahdi army militia is known to have considerable power.

The brigade commander was relieved of his duties, and a battalion commander was arrested, Gen. Peterson said, adding that officials had identified problems with the brigade during an inspection in August. He said they the brigade “demonstrated very poor performance” in its missions.

Still, he said he thinks the matter, which included the deaths of seven workers, was “an isolated incident.”

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