By Cpl. Chadwick deBree
Regimental Combat Team 1
ZAIDON, Iraq – Iraqi police stand in line with rifles in hand, wearing Kevlar helmets and flak jackets. "Stand here and hold your ID badge up," a Marine says as they step up to his station, one by one, to have their picture taken. This is just part of the process the Iraqi police must do in order to get paid.
Marines and Sailors with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, helped the process of paying the Iraqi police, March 13, at the Iraqi police Station in Zaidon.
"We're here to provide security and to supervise the process," said Staff Sgt. Derrick A. Huff, platoon sergeant, with 3rd Platoon. "The Iraqi police are the ones that actually issue the money."
In order for the Iraqi police to get paid, they must show that they have everything that has been issued to them, including flak, helmet, body armor plates, as well as their weapon. Each item must match the serial number on their badge.
"The process begins with us taking a picture of them holding their badge up, then they go to the next station where they show all of their serialized gear," said Cpl. Ratana Hem, squad leader, 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon. "From there we pay them and mark their hand with an 'X' to make sure they only get paid once."
The Marines take pictures of the Iraqi policemen as a way to recognize who is in the area and to track gear and weapons, said Huff, a 28-year-old native of Bowling Green, N.C.
With the Iraqi security forces stepping up and taking control of their country, the Marines are glad to be helping the process in getting them paid for the job they are doing.
"They're better than I expected," Huff said. "I haven't been back here since 2003 and it's changed a lot. You can tell they care and want to be self-sustaining. They're actively participating on joint patrols and manning their own posts. They man their posts by themselves and we walk around to make sure they're doing it properly. We're just here to help train them into becoming a better police force."
Hem, who was deployed to Iraq last year with the Island Warriors, also said there have been great improvements to the country since his last deployment. One reason is because of the Iraqi police and the Sons of Iraq.
"The (operations) tempo was a lot more vigorous last year," said the 21-year-old Long Beach, Calif., native. "Last year we didn't have this many Iraqi police or Iraqi army and there were a lot more insurgents in our area. Now we're here and it's not as bad as the last time... because of the Iraqi police and Sons of Iraq in the area. They've been doing their job by protecting the Zaidon area."
When the Iraqi security forces notice something out of the ordinary in the area, they let the Marines know, but they don't push the mission onto them because they take care of the situation on their own with minimal guidance from the Marines, Huff said.
"They have the most sincere desire to learn from us," said Huff. "We'll continue to train them well and make them into the best police force we can so we don't have to be here anymore."