HADITHA, Iraq -- Iraqi Police conducting missions with the support of Marines is a common sight for the local populace in the Haditha Triad, but with time and recruitments at an all time high, this will be an even more frequent display.
Marines assigned to the Police Transitioning Team 1, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, held an Iraqi Police recruitment at the Civil Military Operations Center here to employ a higher number of local nationals into the Iraqi Police.
“We’re trying to fill both the IP station in Haditha and Haqlaniyah,” said Gunnery Sgt. Eric N. Johnson, operations chief, PTT-1. “We have 130 spaces to fill today and it’s looking good so far.”
With lines out the door at the CMOC, Johnson said he was sure the quota would be met.
“I think we’ll definitely get 130 and have some names left over to keep in touch with for the next time we’re recruiting,” he added. “We’ve done smaller recruitments before, but this is the first time we’ve done it on this grand of a scale.”
Johnson said a few months ago, locals couldn’t be paid enough to become an Iraqi Police Officer, and attributes the change to the recent downfall of insurgent activity in the area. A majority of the IPs were from outside of the Haditha Triad, many of them from southern Iraq.
“The locals see things getting a lot better around here and they want to be a part of that,” added Johnson.
When the IP recruits showed up at the CMOC, they underwent background checks and other tests to make sure they were qualified, such as being able to read and write.
“First, we make sure the person is between 18 and 35-years-old,” said the 35-year-old Johnson. “We prefer to choose recruits who have past IP or (Iraqi Army) experience, but they must also pass the background check and be in good physical condition.”
If a recruit is chosen, he will then be sent to the IP Training School, where he will endure approximately seven weeks of training to become an official employee of the Iraqi Police.
"I want to learn about human rights,” said Nsais J. Mohamed, an IP recruit. “When the time comes, I want to make sure it’s necessary to detain someone before we accuse them.”
Mohamed, who was formerly a fisherman, said he looks forward to the school teaching him the correct way of handling detainees.
“During the course, the recruits will be taught a lot of ethics training and get some exposure to the ways American police forces do things,” Johnson explained. “Among other things, they will also learn marksmanship training. We want them to come out acting more like police officers instead of being another arm in the military.”
Arkan D. Husein, a potential IP recruit, said he can’t wait to join the Iraqi Police and bring justice to his country.
“I want to help the Marines get rid of the insurgents in my city,” said the 24-year-old Husein. “When I’m an IP, I’m going to help protect all the families and their property, and with the help of the Marines I think we will be able to control our own cities very shortly.”
The IPs are vital to the success of the Task Force 1/3 because they bring the support of the local populace to the Marines.
“It’s good to have people working for us who have local knowledge,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth S. Conklin, corpsman, PTT-1. “They know the area and people, so they’re very important to us.”
Conklin added since his arrival in Iraq during March, the 320 IPs in the areas of Haditha and Haqlaniyah have improved greatly.
“They’ve become a much more professional group of people,” Conklin, a Cocoa Beach, Fla., native added. “The group of Marines who worked with the IPs before us worked a lot on the kinetic part of their training. The way they conduct their missions is a lot more coordinated then it was before, and we hope the new recruits learn this trait as well.”
Lance Cpl. Nick R. Ploeg, advisor, PTT-1, said he looks forward to the new recruits arrival and thinks it will be good for the city to see their own people patrolling the streets more often.
“This is a really good opportunity for these people. It’s a really high-paying job, and is a great way for them to help their cities,” said Johnson. “Before, we hardly had any IPs from Haqlaniyah, but after today we’ll have plenty of people from that area. This means we’ll have IPs patrolling their own cities and forming their own police forces.”
At the end of the day, the PTT recruited 117 people and considered the day a success.
“Even with the small percent of people we recruited being from Haqlaniyah, it will still help lower the attacks like it did in Haditha when we received more local IPs from their area,” 25-year-old Conklin explained.
Johnson added the Marines with 1/3 are winning over the trust of the IPs and locals and with their help the Lava Dogs can continue to be successful with their ongoing counterinsurgency operations in Iraq.