RUTBAH, Iraq -- In what is considered a step toward Iraqi led Security Forces in this last city before the Syrian and Jordanian boarders, 40 newly graduated Iraqi Police returned to the city.
The “Sons of Rutbah” as they are called due to them being from the city, returned April 22 from the police academy to serve and protect their city.
“(The people of Rutbah) have been waiting for their IPs to return,” said 2nd Lt. Kieran R. O’Neil, officer in charge of the civil affair group detachment attached to Task Force Tarawa. “They want locals to patrol the streets of Rutbah.”
It has been almost a year since there has been a constant police presence in the city.
“There was a Police Force here about a year ago,” said Capt. Daniel W. Micklis, officer in charge of police transition team 21 attached to Task Force Tarawa. “There were a few issues that caused them to disband. The biggest were the lack of a Coalition presence in the city and not getting paid.”
Police transition team 21 has been working with and training the IPs since their return from the academy.
“In the academy, they are taught the basics of police work,” said Micklis, a Long Beach, Calif., native. “We reinforce some of the things they were taught, but we focus on orientating them toward being a counter- insurgency force.”
These initial 40 IPs are the first wave to return from the academy, there are more to come. Some here are turning back the pages of time to increase the forces numbers and add a little seasoning.
“We are in the process of getting a hiring order to rehire some of the members of the police force that used to be here,” said O’Neil. “They are the ones with the experience. They will be a great asset to the newly formed Iraqi Police here.”
According to some of the Marines here, the presence of the Iraqi Police alone, will have a great affect on the city.
“All of the IPs we are working with are from Rutbah,” said Micklis. “They know the people and they speak the language. They will give the people here a greater sense of security.”
“By in large, we are looking forward to having them here,” said Lt. Col. Andrew H. Smith, commanding officer of Task Force Tarawa. “Having the IPs here means the locals are starting to take over the security of their own city, and more Iraqi control means less coalition presence.”
Though the Iraqi Police are not as of yet working independently, they are well on their way.
“It’ll take some time,” said O’Neil, “but if they want it, it’ll happen.”
Task Force Tarawa is part of Regimental Combat Team 2, a Marine Corps command responsible for more than 30,000 square miles and 5,500 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province.