By Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
Nov. 26, 2007 - In a dramatic transformation, a courtyard that a year ago was home to insurgent weapons caches designed to inflict destruction and chaos in the Arab Jabour region has become a training ground for a group of potential Iraqi police officers who want to help rebuild and bring order to their community. On Nov. 13, Delaware National Guard soldiers of the 153rd Military Police Company, currently attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, gave 25 Arab Jabour citizens training to help them on their way.
The Guardsmen, most of whom are police officers in their communities back home, instructed the Iraqis in tactics and techniques that police find useful on the job.
The training included how to search vehicles and people, check identification, establish checkpoints, administer first aid, react to violence in the community and fight in hand-to-hand combat.
First Lt. Daniel DeFlavis, a Delaware state trooper, said his soldiers were able to bring a large amount of police knowledge to the classroom.
"We have a lot of police officers in our unit: Wilmington officers, New Castle County officers, probation and patrol and customs control," DeFlavis said. "We have a wide variety of different police and policing style. That's what we bring to the table."
The soldiers attempted to impart less tangible lessons to the citizens in addition to the training.
"We want to impart on the trainees to take pride in their uniform and service to their community," said Staff Sgt. John French, a Wilmington, Del., probation and parole officer.
Such pride and sense of responsibility is important in creating a respected police force in an area which has never had its own internal police force, DeFlavis said.
One stigma left over from Saddam Hussein's rule was corruption in the police force, DeFlavis said. By getting future police officers from citizens within the community who have proven their dedication to its security, DeFlavis said, he hopes to create a model police force in the area.
"I think it is a great honor to start this mission from the ground up," French said.
Although not all the individuals who went through the training may go on to become Iraqi police, the MPs said they hope their training will help give those who do a push toward success.
Sheikh Tomah al-Juburi, a prominent local area sheikh who has taken an active role in rebuilding the infrastructure of Arab Jabour, said involvement and partnership with the central government by integrating local security would add even more pride to the community.
"They fought the terrorists and are proud of it; no more insurgents come and shoot at their families and animals," he said through an interpreter. "They feel proud of their community and want the officials of Iraq to come and help build up the country."
Because of the importance of a police force in helping unify the local and central government, DeFlavis said, he and his soldiers were dedicated to giving the recruits the best training they could.
"You guys are a priority," DeFlavis said to the potential recruits. "We are very motivated and dedicated to training you. Use these classes to establish what works for you."
Although some of the training mirrored lessons already taught during other training for concerned local citizens groups, the recruits were glad for the refresher course.
"I want to be trained more and more," said Sabah Salem. "I need to build myself up to protect myself and my country. Thank you for this opportunity."
Salem, who said he hopes to become a police officer, will have an opportunity to apply for that position in the future when a recruitment drive is conducted in the area.
Although a date has yet to be determined for the initial recruitment drive, the day's event did help generate an interest. In addition to the trainees, other men from around the outlying communities heard of the event and came to the training area, expressing interest in joining concerned local citizens groups. Thirty-seven new people had their background information taken by the MPs.
"Today was a big success," DeFlavis said.
(Army Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky serves with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Public Affairs Office.)