By Tim Kilbride
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 14, 2007 – Expanded cooperation with the Iraqi police and army and the introduction of provincial security forces are helping stabilize Fallujah, Iraq, and the surrounding areas, a coalition commander said yesterday. Marine Col. Richard Simcock, commander of Regimental Combat Team 6, said on a call with military "bloggers" that his team is taking a two-pronged approach to Fallujah: conducting security operations hand in hand with the Iraqis and training the security forces in his area of operation.
Increasingly the focus of training efforts is developing indigenous security forces that supplement the formal Iraqi police and army, Simcock said.
"I would classify them as a police reserve force," Simcock explained.
Limited capacity in the police training academies is holding back a more rapid expansion of the professional force, Simcock said. "We've currently got three (schools), so we have a limited amount of recruits that we can put through the police academy and make police officers," he said.
Instead, the colonel explained, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior instituted the provincial security force. Members are recruited under the same standards as the Iraqi police, but aren't full-fledged policemen.
"They do work hand in hand in local areas, supporting the police," Simcock noted. "And hopefully when there are open seats in the academies, these (temporary forces) can be then moved on, go through the academy and become full-fledged policemen."
U.S. cooperation with the police is beginning to manifest in a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach in Fallujah, Simcock said. He called this approach "a district-type plan."
He explained, "We'll go into certain districts and establish neighborhood watches, ... and we're finding that to be very, very successful."
The success of the joint fight against insurgents in Fallujah is driving the enemy to increasingly target the Iraqi security forces instead of U.S. troops, Simcock noted. Their weapons of choice, he said, are improvised explosive devices and suicide-vest bombs.
One reason for the shift in targets, the colonel explained, is that the insurgents "see that the tide is changing, that the support of the Iraqi people (is) coming over to the coalition force side."
Despite a small swell in violence as insurgents flee growing opposition in Baghdad and other parts of Anbar province, Simcock predicted continued successes.
For "terrorists trying to go the path of least resistance," he said, they "are in for a rude surprise."
The reasons, he explained, are: "I have more (U.S.) forces available to me than any of my predecessors have ever had. And then you combine that with the activities of the Iraqi security forces."
That growing effectiveness has allowed for a reduction in the use of combined air support and heavy artillery, Simcock said.
"There is nothing on the ground here that a Marine rifle squad can't quickly take care of," he observed. "If they stand up and fight us, they're going to lose, and they're going to lose very, very quickly."
(Tim Kilbride is assigned to New Media, American Forces Information Service.)
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