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Iraqi security forces criminal investigators mature under ‘Dragon’ Battalion tutelage

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Under the watchful eye of Bob Wirkner, a law enforcement professional attached to Company D, 1st “Dragon” Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center and a Carollton, Ohio, native, Iraqi security forces, working with the Dragon Battalion, have developed and refined forensic techniques that can consistently put criminals behind bars with solid evidence.

Classes on tactical site exploitation, or preserving and interpreting evidence at a crime scene, have been ongoing since January of this year.

“We’ve been focusing on a number of things—the courses are very dynamic,” Wirkner said. “The IA [Iraqi Army] developed their own criminal investigation cells once they began to see the practical value of what we were teaching.”

The TSE program saw the first of its successes only a month after the first class graduated. In March, soldiers with the 17th Iraqi Army Division were able to use data collected at a crime scene to get a warrant to arrest and prosecute a suspected felon.

While training the IA’s Criminal Investigation Cell has been a primary focus of late, the most recent set of classes also included members of the Iraqi Police. The two groups usually perform different jobs, but as an investigation team, they have come to understand that there is much they can learn from one another.

“Both groups have a vested interest in working together,” said General Abid, the head of the Mahmudiyah Police in Baghdad. Abid and Staff Maj. Gen. Ali, commander of the 17th IA Div., both understand how important the sharing of ideas and information can be in capturing and prosecuting criminals.

“This is part of the mission we were sent here to perform,” said Maj. Raymond Dillman, a Stability Transition Team officer with 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, and a Newcastle, Okla., native.

“The enduring capabilities trained in the CIC and the IP’s special investigative team have made inroads as far as the Iraqi reporting system, and warrants will be easier to procure and prosecute.”

With the maturation of the IA’s CIC and the IP’s SIT, future classes will require they use their own resources, rather than the investigation kits Wirkner normally provides. This will allow them to become familiar with and confident in the use of the equipment they will be utilizing under real-world conditions.

“I can’t stress how important it is they bring their own equipment to these classes now,” said Wirkner. “I want them to know what is in their kit and how to use everything at their disposal.”

While future classes will generally focus on introducing new and more advanced concepts, they will also review what the students have already learned. Parts of the class will be taught by the students themselves, testing their ability to pass knowledge on, as will be necessary after the drawdown of U.S forces.

Article by 1st Lt. Patrick Leroy Beaudry, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C