Airmen lead training course for Iraqi police
By SOF Editor on Thu, 12/03/2009 - 11:45am
BAGHDAD (AFNS) -- Airmen assigned to the Iraq Police Transition Team here started a new class Nov. 18 for recent graduates of the Iraqi Police Academy as an effort to further enhance their capabilities as officers securing their communities. The five-day class is part of an on-going effort to transition responsibility for community security in the cities from coalition forces to Iraqi police. The primary goal of the training is to build on what the Iraqi's already learned at their academy and show them new ways in how to accomplish the mission of bringing security and stability in and around the streets of Baghdad. "This training is going to provide them with the tools they will need to proceed as effective officers for their communities," said Staff Sgt. Timothy Cross, a Det. 2 instructor deployed to the region from Offut Air Force Base, Neb. "We will train them in basic community policing, survival skills, communication and leadership. We will also work on weapons handling fundamentals, along with detainee handling." The squadron of security forces Airmen deployed to the region in January and is broken up into squads which have certain responsibilities. One squad may focus on teaching investigative methods, while another focuses on working directly with police leaders at their stations. Sergeant Cross and his squad handle most of the basic police instruction. Classes are given with the Airman speaking first, followed by an interpreter. The flow of communication is slow, but effective. Slides shown on a wall also lay out the information for the recruits to follow. Everyone pays attention to the sergeant leading the course. "Our training takes place about every other week with 15 to 25 new officers attending," Sergeant Cross said. "They come from all of the surrounding IP stations, so along with us training them, we can get a feel for what is going on in their districts as well. That information can also be shared among the other officers, making the group more a team, instead of each district operating on its own." Lt. Col. Joe Engelbrecht, the detachment commander, sees the mission as vital to the overall effort to enable the Iraqis to successfully maintain security and enforce the rule of law. "The mission of instructing Iraqi police officers is important for two reasons," Colonel Engelbrecht said. "First, we give them the technical instruction on how to be officers, with emphasis on ethics, community policing, weapons use, and communication procedures. This gives them the ability to do their jobs. The second reason is that this training gives them the confidence to go out and be a strong part of the community. This is important because if they are confident in what they do, then the people will see that and have faith they are prepared to perform their duties. The PTT concept began several years ago with the Army working with the Iraqi police in basic security training. The mission is now supported by Airmen, who are taking the training to higher levels, giving the Iraqi police the ability to work independently. Colonel Engelbrecht noted that, in addition to the technical skills imparted to the Iraqi police officers, the professionalism and enthusiasm displayed by his team carry over to his Iraqi partners. "On one of our missions, we responded to a scene where an IED had been found," he said. "They had set things up as they were trained to do and one of the officers was so excited to see us that he ran up to us, with his graduation certificate in his hand, calling out our names. That shows me they appreciate what we are doing for them and with them," he added.