By Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 6, 2008 - With help from coalition soldiers, the police force here is building a district response team. "This group of DRT members will make sure Mahmudiyah is not threatened by terrorists," said Mahmudiyah police officer 1st Lt. Yessir Shabp Abid, future platoon leader for the DRT. "We will gain the trust of the people by making sure the enemy has no place to safely rest."
The soldiers of the 65th Military Police Company, 503rd Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, are training the team in basic rifle marksmanship, close-quarters combat, combat lifesaver skills, vehicle assaults and building entry and clearing techniques.
"The DRT will be a police organization that takes on the hard cases of the Mahmudiyah police force," said Army Spc. Joshua Carrion, from Brooklyn, N.Y., 2nd Platoon, 65th Military Police Company team leader and lead trainer for clearance technique. "We train the DRT on special weapons and tactics that are beyond the IP's regular scope of work."
The current class of 11 students is the second of four DRT classes scheduled through October to train a total of 45 police officers.
"On the first day of the course, we break down the basics of what the DRT is made up of, what the leadership is supposed to do and what kind of operators we are looking for," Carrion said. "We're looking for the elite -- the best of the best. We stress that they have to be sharp and know things that other people aren't necessarily going to know."
Identifying hostile and nonhostile targets is a main focus for the trainees as the city of Mahmudiyah transfers security authority from the Army to the police.
"The DRT will be the force of choice in Mahmudiyah if there are noncombatants believed to be at a designated mission location," said Army Staff Sgt. Andrew Martinez, from Fort Bragg, N.C., 65th Military Police Company squad leader.
The course lasts 10 days, but hopefuls conduct a physical fitness test and marksmanship training three days before the official start of training. The physical fitness test consists of a 100-meter sprint in less than 14 seconds, 21 push-ups, 31 sit-ups, six pull-ups and a 1,500-meter run in 14 minutes.
"After the PT test, they came back for a class on range safety and procedures, and how to fire properly from static firing positions," Carrion said. "After the range class and rifle marksmanship, the individuals who qualified were placed in the course."
While the course is designed to be difficult, everyone who passes the physical fitness test and marksmanship phases has successfully completed the training.
"At the end of the class, we send the candidates through the shoot house for qualification, [where] they have to engage all targets throughout three rooms in less than 45 seconds," Carrion said.
Abid said he looks forward to the team making a difference. "Everyone who is in the course has done a great job," Abid said. "Those who qualify will continue to help Mahmudiyah remain a safe and secure city."
(Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna serves with the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)