War on Terrorism

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coalition Forces Help Iraqi Police Earn People's Trust

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class William Selby
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 20, 2009 - The Iraqi Interior Ministry is making progress toward minimizing corruption and maximizing the trust of the Iraqi people, a military officer involved in the effort said April 17. Air Force Maj. Joseph Musacchia, commander of the 81st Security Forces Squadron, told participants in a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable that to create trust between the Iraqi people and their government, coalition and Interior Ministry officials have instituted courses in the ministry's Inspector General office and Internal Affairs offices that teach police ethics and focus on anticorruption initiatives.

"We've been working with the Ministry of Interior, especially the three branches that we're primarily responsible for, to teach them various sets of skills that would be important for them to develop that level of trust and confidence," he said. "In essence, we're trying to build the foundation of the future of these organizations that will lead the Iraqi nation into the next couple of years."

Musacchia said his transition team is responsible for all aspects of the rule of law, assistance with police primacy, and to assist in the anticorruption efforts within the ministry's Internal Affairs and Inspector General divisions and the court system's legal branch.

The common message from the Iraqis, Musacchia said, is "We don't want you to do this for us; we want you to show us how we can do this so we can make this a better country."

"So you see a great desire on the part of these people to make their country better," Musacchia added. "You see them wanting to create a transparency in their government, to show that they are fair, that they're balanced, that they are not corrupt, and that they're ethnically driven."

For instance, the Iraqis built their own missing-persons data base that is technologically up to date, using their own money and resources, Musacchia said. "Before that, they weren't asking the proper questions, acquiring the right information, and didn't have the resources and training to store the information properly.

"They took such pride and ownership in that," he continued. "In a matter of two weeks, it was something that they had built, and they were proud of it."

While the Iraqis have made great strides, Musacchia said, challenges still need to be addressed. The Iraqis still lack the capability and techniques to be where they'd like to be, he explained.

"They want to move into the international community, and they want to be accepted as a nation with a capability equal to the rest of the modern world," Musacchia said. "They're trying to get to that point to where they can make up a gap of almost 100 years of police evolving."

(Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class William Selby serves in the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)

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