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Friday, April 06, 2007

Joint Police Force Works Toward a More Secure Iraq

By Sgt. Marcus Butler
4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne),
25th Infantry Division


ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq, March 31, 2007 — The future security of Iraq starts at the ground level with the Iraqi security forces. In order to prepare the Iraqis for this responsibility, soldiers in transition teams have been working around the clock all over Iraq.

Soldiers of the 127th Military Police Company are ready for this challenge.

Based out of Forward Operating Base Kalsu, the headquarters for the 127th has platoons throughout the battle space for the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

One platoon in particular, 3rd Platoon "Wolf Pack" is operating in Iskandaryiah, Iraq, home to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. The Wolf Pack arrived at Forward Operating Base Iskan approximately four months ago fully knowing their mission.

"Our mission as a police transition team is to make sure the (Iraqi police) are fully trained and qualified to take on the mission of securing their country and keeping the citizens safe," said Staff Sgt. Johnny Colon, squad leader and native of Guayama, Puerto Rico.

This mission is of the highest priority not only to the Iraqi police who are training but also for the civilians they are training to protect.

"In our area of operation, the important thing is that more of the local population is beginning to trust the IPs," said 1st Lt. Nathan Diaz, platoon leader for the Wolf Pack. "The people are happy to see the IPs going through their villages and towns patrolling the area as well as a large increase of information being given to the IPs to help combat the insurgents in the local areas."

"In the short time that we have been here, the human intelligence has grown dramatically," said Diaz. "We are getting more and more tips on events that could harm Iraqi security forces and coalition forces in the local neighborhoods."

The relationship between the police and the civilians is the not the only one that matters. Soldiers of Wolf Pack worked daily with the IPs of the local area helping them to become more proficient in their job and building bonds in the process.

These bonds will lead to lasting impressions for both the IPs and soldiers.

"Moving from unit to unit, you have to start from scratch building trust with the people that you are working with. We have different personnel that work with the leadership of the IPs to help in specific areas," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael King, platoon sergeant for the Wolf Pack.

"Whether that area involves investigations, accountability of weapons, or training; we have built a strong relationship with all of the stations that fall within our AO."

Progression of the IPs is sometimes compared to the police forces in United States, but that is inequitable, noted King.

"One of the things when looking at progress of the IPs is you can not look at them as law enforcement in the United States for the simple fact the threat in Iraq is much greater," said King. "That causes unique challenges for the IPs. I have noticed an increase in professionalism as well as proactive efforts."
These soldiers will not only grow from the experience of working with IPs but also working with the Paratroopers of 1st Battalion, 501st PIR.

"It has been a very unique experience for me working with paratroopers for the first time. I have made life-long bonds with many of them and I know that I can count on them no matter what," said Colon.

"The paratroopers of 1-501st PIR welcomed us in with open arms. Whenever we needed something to happen there was never any issue with getting it done," said King.

The soldiers of Wolf Pack and the IPs will be better for this experience, noted Diaz.

"Our soldiers will take with them a lasting positive impression on what they have learned during their time here and I know our IP counterparts will feel the same," he added.

Photo: Sgt. Christopher Benjamin, 3rd Platoon, 127th Military Police Company, watches as Iraqi policemen handle the flow of traffic at a checkpoint south of Baghdad, March 22. Benjamin, a native of Tampa, Fla. is visiting the checkpoint as part of his platoon's mission as a police transition team. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Marcus Butler.

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