News: Iraqi Police take lead in SE Baghdad
By Cpl. Robert Yde
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – For the past five months, Soldiers with the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, out of Fort Lewis, Wash., now attached to the Fort Hood, Texas-based 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have focused much of their efforts on training members of the Iraqi national police.
The two forces have conducted numerous, joint operations with the coalition forces in the lead and the INP taking on a little more responsibility each time out.
"Up to this point, we've been planning all the operations," Troop C commander, Capt. Adam Grim explained of the partnership between his Soldiers and the INP.
However, the focus of these operations has shifted recently with increasing efforts concentrated on turning over added security responsibilities to Iraqi forces.
Police officers with the National Police's 6th Brigade took major steps toward this goal during missions conducted Dec. 8 and 9. While members of the INP have been involved in the execution of previous missions, the cordon-and search operations conducted on these two days were planned exclusively by the INP.
"The national police have planned this operation and they want us to assist them by doing the outer cordon mission," said Grim, a native of Orange Park, Fla.
Both days, 1-14 Cav. Soldiers secured the objective areas chosen by the INP while the police officers went from house to house searching for weapons and suspected insurgents.
While small teams of Soldiers accompanied the INPs during the search operations, they were there merely to observe and provide feedback if asked.
The first target area the INPs selected to search was a small section of the Abu Dischir neighborhood Dec. 8.
"It's mainly Shia," Grim said of Abu Dischir, "and there's been a high level of sectarian violence in that area."
The INPs, accompanied by Soldiers form Troop C, spent several hours searching homes and talking with the local residents. While the searches turned up nothing on this morning, the mission was deemed a success as the police officers were met with little defiance by the populace.
Grim said that this was important, as coalition and INP forces continue to build relationships with locals and show them that they are dedicated to providing a secure environment.
The next day, the INP forces targeted a much larger area in the neighborhood of Heg al Seha and were assisted by Soldiers from Troop A.
According to one national police officer, 1st Sgt. Firas Kalel Abrahem, this area has been challenging in the past, with a large amount of sectarian violence.
"We want to clean up this area and help these people," he said through an interpreter.
The mission ran much like the one the day before, with coalition forces providing the outer cordon and small teams of Soldiers accompanying the police officers through the neighborhood.
However, this time INP forces were able to detain four suspected terrorists and confiscate several rifles and miscellaneous electronic equipment that could be used for bomb making.
"They're really good at searching these homes," said Capt. Patrick Patterson, a platoon leader with Troop A. "They know where insurgents typically like to hide things and so they go right for those places first."
Not only did the INP perform well during the search operations, but they showed improvements in other areas as well.
"They are normally dependent on the U.S forces, for things like food and water, but they haven't asked us for anything this time," explained Cpl. David Duitsman, a team leader from Palmdale, Calif.
While this self-reliance is what coalition forces have been working toward, Patterson said that sometimes it is hard for his Soldiers to step back from a situation and take on the role of an observer.
"We've been doing it for so long that sometimes it's a bad habit of ours to take charge," the Canton, Ohio native explained. "So, we've got to kick the crutch out from underneath them and let them walk on their own."
The police officers did not appear to mind, and seemed excited about their mission and their added responsibilities.
"They're minds are in the right place," said Portland, Ore. native Staff Sgt. David Forney, a section leader with Troop A. "They're really motivated and eager to learn."
With the enthusiasm they have demonstrated, Grim said he believes that the INPs will continue to make steady improvements as they now focus on turning away from training on simpler tasks and concentrate on more complex ones, such as mission planning.
"It started off with simple things," Grim explained. "We first had to train them not to have their weapons on fire or their fingers on the triggers during patrols. Now we don't have these problems, and we're progressing to the higher level things like training them to plan and then executing that plan."