Iraq police leaders learn from Army trainers in Missouri

Sunday, November 2, 2008

WAYNESVILLE, Mo. -- Top leaders of Iraq's police forces are in southern Missouri, working with U.S. Army trainers in a bid to increase professionalism by Iraqi officers and give Americans a deeper understanding of Mideast cultural issues.

The Fort Leonard Wood Army post routinely has foreign military personnel coming for specialized training, often in the Captains Career Courses for the engineer, military police and chemical corps programs.

But the visit now underway by the Iraqi deputy minister of police affairs and the three-star general who leads the Iraqi National Police is something new.

Officials at Fort Leonard Wood hope bringing senior Iraqi leaders to study and train with American military police will help improve the professionalism of the Iraqi police and help Americans understand Middle Eastern cultural issues in police work.

"We're bringing in two senior Iraqi leaders who I have built a personal relationship with over the years that I've been over there," Brig. Gen. David Phillips said.

Those men, deputy minister Ayden Khalid Qadir and Lt. Gen. Hussein al-Awadi, could be key to producing a professional police force of career civil servants, Phillips said.

"Deputy minister Ayden is a professional policeman with a law degree from the Sorbonne in France," Phillips said. "He is now in charge of all of their police forces in Iraq. I'm bringing him over here because I want to do an exchange -- I want him to send me a major or a lieutenant colonel, an Iraqi policeman, who will work on our staff here as an instructor."

That instructor would teach in English and educate Americans on the cultural nuances required to effectively operate as a military policeman in an Islamic society.

The presence of the commander of the Iraqi National Police may raise some eyebrows, Phillips acknowledged.

"Didn't we hear all about the terrible things? The National Police were formed as commandos and public order battalions," Phillips said. "At the time they were formed back in late 2003, 2004, I was there, they were thugs.

"They were very sectarian in nature and, yes, they did do some really bad things. But since then, Hussein al-Awadi was a professional officer under the former regime, had retired with over 30 years' service, and ran their equivalent of the War College."

Since the U.S. doesn't have a national police force comparable to Iraq, Americans have handed over much of the small-unit training to their Italian allies, who draw their trainers from the Carabinieri, the national police force of Italy with military and civilian policing duties.

Phillips said he'd eventually like to have an American military police officer who speaks Arabic attend the equivalent of a captain's career course in the Iraqi training system.

"It gives the American people a door and a window on the Iraqis because there are some wonderful Iraqi people; in fact, the majority are just good people," Phillips said. "These two care about their country. Hussein al-Awadi was retired and everything was going well with him. General Ayden, who is deputy minister Ayden now, he could go to any number of countries and teach in one of their law schools because he is a real lawyer."

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