FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Reinvigorated leadership has created a sea-change in the effectiveness and capabilities of the Iraqi Police in this area of Al Anbar Province, Iraq, say Marines operating here.
“The Iraqi Police have come around 180 degrees and I believe it has a lot to do with their new leadership,” said Sgt. David B. Fekety, a 28-year-old radio operator and New York City police officer from Staten Island, N.Y., with the Police Transition Team. “The IP have a new initiative and they are assisting on large operations.”
The IP and the Iraqi Army have had previous disputes conducting operations in the city, but have been united by a common commitment to protecting the citizens living in Fallujah and its surrounding towns and countryside.
“I am seeing a lot of discussion between the IA and IP. Before, there was no sharing of knowledge between the two, but now they are working well together,” said Capt. Tad R. Scott, a 35-year-old ground-supply officer and a police officer, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., with the Police Transition Team.
The Iraqi Police have an added advantage over other members of Coalition Forces: they know Fallujah and those who live there; they were born and raised here and have taken an oath to protect the city and its denizens.
“We don’t know the people of Fallujah,” said Scott, “but these guys grew up with the people here. They are patrolling the streets and keeping them safe. They are taking pride in keeping their families safe.”
The Marines train the police, put them through a shortened version of basic training and various classes. Marines help improve the IP where they need assistance .
“We are here to hone their skills. To do that, we find their weak points and we help improve them,” said Fekety.
Under their new leadership, which has created a climate of professionalism and high expectations previously unheard of since taking the reins in mid-December, the Iraqi Police are unrelentingly taking their city streets back, block by dangerous block, from the smugglers and murderers who attempt to use the city as a base of operations, said Scott.
“The leadership has changed the atmospherics completely overnight. (The policemen) are much more (aggressively patrolling),” Scott said.
One pressing issue for Scott and his team is turning the Iraqi Police into a completely uniformed force.
“We are assisting them to get official police uniforms,” Fekety said. “We are working on making them more identifiable as police to avoid any incidents.”
The men who compose the rank-and-file police force can be forgiven for not wanting to be easily identified as Iraqi policemen, said Army 2nd Lt. Michael Strachan, PTT team officer-in-charge.
“Any IP who shows leadership traits is a target of insurgents,” he said.
Despite operating under a constant cloud of danger, the Iraqi Police are still pushing “outside the wire” to keep their friends, family and fellow Fallujah residents safe from those who would do them harm.
Because of this high level of dedication from the Iraqi Police, Coalition Forces are now able to focus on other areas of operation and serve as a screening force to keep terrorists from entering the city.
The relationship with the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army progressing upward sets an example for the citizens of Fallujah. If the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army can work together for their security, the citizens of Fallujah can see the IP and the IA are both striving towards the same goal: the safety and welfare of the ‘City of Mosques’.