News: New police training center opens in Salah ad-Din province
Story by Spc. Richard Colletta
TIKRIT, Iraq — The Iraqi police in Salah ad-Din province took a huge step forward when they officially opened the doors to a new police training center that was built to replace an older facility, and was completely funded by the Iraq Ministry of Interior.
The new center opened Feb. 22, boasts barracks space for police and recruits, classrooms, a parade deck, dining facility and a shooting range in addition to other amenities needed to train and house the Iraqi Police.
The center was built in only 11 months and will provide advanced training in police operations to new recruits as well as current Iraqi police officers.
The Dean of the Salah ad-Din Police Training Center, Col. Ziad Hamada Salih said the opening of the new center shows that they are prepared for the U.S. forces to begin drawing down later this year.
"This project will help a lot to train new Iraqi Police and will also benefit the people of the Salah ad-Din province." he said.
Since 2003, the Iraqi Police and security forces have developed force training for surveillance, counter-explosives and forensic investigations. They now have specialized forces including explosive ordinance disposal teams, K-9 handlers and Special Weapons and Tactics teams.
While in the past U.S. forces have worked very closely with training the Iraqis in police operations, Maj. Victor Baez-An, a Stability Transition Team advisor with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, said recruits at the new center will be trained by fellow Iraqis, and that will be the biggest impact of this center.
"They have an Iraqi instructor, they have an Iraqi cadre, everything is in Arabic and from start to finish they will have a professional, well-organized place to attend classes," Baez-An said. "It's a first-class facility all the way."
As Iraq's police and security forces continue to grow and improve, attacks and security incidents have continued to decline.
Baez-An highlighted the importance of the Iraqi Police taking charge and leading their own training.
"The fact that they're doing this in their own facility paid [for] by their own money, it will be more meaningful to them." he said.