Southern Calif.-based Marines say local Iraqi police are “stepping up,” relying less on Coalition forces

25 Jan 2007 | Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes 2nd Marine Division

Less than one year after starting a police force here, the Iraqi police are successfully enforcing security on the safer streets of Husaybah, Iraq.

In the past three weeks, Iraqi police found two weapons caches of over a dozen rounds of high explosive ordnance used for making improvised explosive devices and other IED making material.

“It’s clockwork” for the Iraq version of the “boys in blue,” say Marines who work alongside them.

“Patrol after patrol, these guys [Iraqi police] are making a difference for their own neighborhoods,” said U.S. Marine Pfc. Jacob D. Turner, a 20-year-old from Beatrice, Neb.  “Without [their presence] the city wouldn’t be as safe as it is right now.”

Turner serves with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, a Twentynine Palms, Calif.,-based battalion who’s serving in this northwestern Anbar Province region.

Along with his squad of 11 other Marines and a Navy corpsman, and alternating with other squads from the company, Turner’s tasked with patrolling with the Iraqi police here, monitoring them and imparting with them his knowledge of security and stability operations.  This task is a vital part of leaving the safeguard of the country in the hands of Iraqi Security Forces, say Marines here.

Husaybah’s Mayor, Farhan Tekan. Farhan, recently said this region is the “safest place” in Al Anbar Province.  Farhan made the comment during a meeting with the 3rd Battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Scott C. Shuster.

Farhan praised Col. Jamaal Shihab Muhammad, the region’s police chief for being a key figure in making the region safe.

But the Marines who walk the beat with the Iraqi police say they know exactly where the success is coming from – the Iraqi police who roam the streets in search of insurgent activity all day long.

Although problems, which have recently been fixed, regarding supplies, fuel and gear for the Iraqi policemen have been “discouraging” to some. But the police are still completing their missions, say Kilo Company Marines. 

“Some wonder – why are these guys [Iraqi police] coming into work every single day, in the cold, in the rain, away from the families and homes when they haven’t been getting what they need?” added Turner.

Dedication, hope, and security are the reasons why they continue their mission, say the Iraqi policemen here.

“This is my home, and I want to help watch over it,” said a 19-year-old Iraqi policeman and a Husaybah native through an Arabic-English interpreter.  “I’m not worried about anything else but keeping my family safe.”

More than a year ago, the region was a haven for insurgents.  That’s when U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major offensive, effectively killing or capturing nearly 250 insurgents during an operation dubbed “Steel Curtain.”

After 18 days of combat operations, Husaybah established a police department with more than 400 volunteers.  Since then, that number jumped to 1,600 armed and trained policemen.

“The police force has come a long way since we got here,” said Cpl. Jason Getty, a 21-year-old Lakeview, Ore., native, with Kilo Company, who’s into his fifth month of a seven-month deployment.  “The IPs [Iraqi police] are really stepping up now.  They’re proving to us that they can maintain security here on their own.”