By Navy Seaman William Selby
Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 24, 2008 - The military command charged with training Iraq's security forces and the Iraqi Interior Ministry continue to make progress in the development of the Iraqi security forces and the ministry, a senior military official said. Army Maj. Gen. James M. Milano, deputy director of interior affairs for Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, told bloggers and online journalists during a Dec. 18 teleconference that Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bulani wants a corruption-free ministry.
"One of Minister Bulani's strategic priorities, both this year and for 2009, is increasing professionalism [and] ethics-based behavior, eradicating corruption from the ministry," Milano said.
Because the ministry has grown at such a rapid pace in the past five years, it has been challenging to make sure everyone is trained properly and professionally, the general added.
The interior affairs directorate oversees the coalition police advisory training team and the Ministry of Interior transition team.
"My mission is to assist the Ministry of the Interior to complete the generation of professional, credible police forces while at the same time developing institutional capacity to acquire, train, develop, manage, sustain and resource those forces, leading to self-reliance and maintenance to the rule of law," he said.
The ministry now is focused on the transition to "police primacy," making the police responsible for maintaining internal security in Iraq while the military focuses on external threats, Milano said.
"This transition to police primacy and emphasis on the rule of law and the corresponding transition from a confessions-based system to an evidentiary-based criminal justice system ... has yet to be fully developed," he said. "It is making progress now."
Before 2003, the police were one of several security agencies in Iraq whose sole purpose was to keep Saddam Hussein in power and protect his regime, the general explained. "Today, we're trying to flip that around and elevate the police to a position of primacy here in the country, to where the populace has confidence in them [and] they trust them," he added. Milano said trends are positive in terms of the public's perception of the Iraqi police.
The Interior Ministry also is in the process of training and transitioning the "Sons of Iraq" citizen security groups to the Iraqi Army and police force.
"The government of Iraq is fully committed to the Sons of Iraq program, as is the coalition," he said. Roughly 10,500 Sons of Iraq have transitioned to the Iraqi police force, which is in the process of hiring another 12,500, Milano said.
While progress continues in most areas, the general said, logistics has been and continues to be a challenge.
"We're having logistics issues across the board, in terms of fuel distribution, ammo distribution and maintenance," he acknowledged, attributing the difficulty to the size of the ministry.
"Logistically, they have some work to do," he said. "But by and large, I'm seeing improvement."
(Navy Seaman William Selby serves in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)