CAMP RAMADI, Iraq (Feb. 1, 2010) - Top U.S. and Iraqi security officials presided over the graduation of 45 Iraqi policemen from a civil-disturbance course taught by partnered American and Iraqi instructors at the Ramadi Training Center Jan. 28.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, deputy commanding general-west for U.S. Division-Center, and staff Maj. Gen. Baha Husayn Abd Hassan, provincial director of police for Al Anbar, presented diplomas to Ramadi-area policemen who completed the five-day course.

"Today's graduation event is just another of the many indicators of the continued progress of Iraqi Security Forces," said Tovo, the highest ranking U.S. military leader in Al Anbar. "These Iraqi policemen have acquired a new set of critical skills to prepare them to provide security for the local populace and to enforce the rule of law."

Tovo said the training was entirely initiated by Baha, who assessed the force's strengths and weaknesses after becoming the new provincial director of police.
"It's just one of many significant improvements that the new [director] has made in his short tenure, and I think that it bodes well for the increased professionalization of the police forces in Anbar province," said Tovo.

The National Guard instructors who developed the course belong to 585th Military Police Company from Ohio, attached to 151st Military Police Battalion of the West Virginia National Guard.

The Guardsmen trained seven Iraqi policemen, who in turn trained the rest of the policemen, said Sgt. 1st Class Melissa Hillis, noncommissioned officer in charge of operations for the company and an instructor at the MP Regional Training Institute in Ohio.

The course included instruction on the use of shields, riot batons and formations to intercept and disperse riots, said Hillis. In addition, 12 students with prior commercial driving experience were selected to be trained to operate fire-engine-like anti-riot vehicles recently purchased by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior.

The 30,000-pound vehicles feature two powerful remotely-operated water cannons for pushing back rioters, spotlights, digital cameras, fire-suppression sprinklers, front and rear blades to clear road debris, and tanks for additives that include firefighting foam, paint for marking rioters and CS compound to drive away rioters.

Lacking a manual for the vehicle, the Guardsmen assembled a team of three firefighters, a commercial driving license instructor and Hillis, already an accomplished instructor, to learn how to use it before teaching it to the Iraqi instructors.

"That's the beauty of the Guard," said Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Lovell, one of the firefighters.

Sgt. Chris Smith, the CDL instructor who taught much of the driving skills, said that high motivation among the Iraqi students allowed him to teach an eight-day driving course in just two. Students were taught vehicle maintenance, water-pump operations, targeting -"throwing water," as firemen call it - and driving skills, such as backing and negotiating obstacles, said Smith.

"The students were very intelligent and highly motivated," he said.

Baha was very pleased with the training and said he looked forward to doing more with the Guardsmen, as were the Iraqi police officers, according to 2nd Lt. John Bibler, platoon leader of the instructors.

Iraqi 1st Lt. Mohammed Abdulla Jasim, a Ramadi-area police officer of five years, said he and his men are now fully capable of responding to civil disturbances.

"With this powerful vehicle and the training, we can disperse violence," Mohammed said. "I am ready to give a training course like this to my own students."

Although riots are uncommon in Iraq, newly won freedoms of expression and the right to assemble could change all that, said Sgt. Mike Barnes, a military policeman with the Guard.

"In the Saddam era, there was no backtalk," said Barnes. "Now, they have the right to assemble. [The police may] have to use these new skills."

(Spc. Michael J. MacLeod serves with the 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division (Advise and Assist), USD-C.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16