CAMP AL ASAD — More than 500 Iraqi men were screened and accepted for service as police officers in their local communities during a three-day recruiting drive in Iraq’s western al-Anbar province recently. U.S. Marines screened thousands of applicants Aug. 11-14, in various regions along the western Euphrates River valley, including the border cities of al-Qa’im, Haditha, and Baghdadi – a small town just miles east of this sprawling U.S. air base.
The three-day event was the most successful recruiting for U.S. and Iraqi forces in this region to date, according to Maj. Lowell Rector, officer-in-charge of the police transition team for Regimental Combat Team 7. An Iraqi Police officer provides crowd control at an Iraqi Police recruiting drive held in al-Qa'im. Department of Defense photo by Marine Cpl. Antonio Rosas.
Police transition teams are composed of U.S. service members who mentor, train and oversee the establishment of Iraqi Police forces throughout the province. RCT-7 is the U.S. military unit responsible for providing security and mentoring Iraqi security forces in western Anbar – an area stretching over more than 30,000 square-miles.
With the addition of the 500 new recruits, western Anbar province will have more than 2,200 officers in uniform. Rector attributed a variety of “variables” to the success of the recruiting drive – consistent pay, new and better equipment, and a rigorous screening process to ensure only high-caliber candidates are accepted.
“They’re getting paid, they realize the benefits, the environment’s becoming more secure,” said Rector. “They want to serve.” New applicants must attend eight to ten weeks of training before they can begin service in their districts, said Rector. Police academies are located in Baghdad and Jordan.
To qualify for service, applicants had to endure a physical fitness test, medical exam, background check, literacy test and an interview process with retired U.S. Police officers who work hand in hand with Iraqi police forces. A similar recruiting drive in the Fallujah area netted 176 new applicants, adding to an existing force of about 1,700 Police officers in the area.