JOINT SECURITY STATION AL WAHAB, Iraq (Dec. 16, 2009) -- Iraq's first line of defense, its border police, have been training at the Al Sheeb Port of Entry, led by PoE Transition Team "Juggernaut," and are making advances in improving border security in the southern Maysan province.

As the importance increases of effective port-of-entry operations to combat illegal trafficking from Iran, the Border Police of Al Sheeb, Iraq, train to provide border security while ensuring a steady flow of commercial and pedestrian traffic.

"At the (team) level we are working with our counterparts to build a professional and independent unit, which strives to secure their operational environment in the most professional manner," said Maj. Jay Watkins, team chief.

The team's partnership with Iraqi border police improves their ability to effectively manage security at the border crossing.

"The training we offer provides Iraqis a safer, more secure nation," said Watkins.

Past training for the border police includes personnel readiness, vehicle inspections, commercial cargo inspections, personnel inspections and detainee operations. In-depth instructions also focus on assessing border police reactions to threats of hostile force, both internal and external, to the port of entry.

"As the PoE forces continue to grow and progress, they will take their knowledge and professionalism they have learned with them and use these skills to mentor their future subordinates," Watkins added.

Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Jurilla is one of the many trainers tasked with developing and leading instructions in police tactics, techniques and procedures. "The course increased the police force's operational readiness in that they are better-prepared to execute systematic and detailed searches on commercial vehicles and personnel entering the port," Jurilla said.

Daily operations for the border police include the inspection of vehicles and foot traffic, wherein police are trained to recognize signs of smuggling.

"As the training applies to everyday occurrences, the border police look and act more professionally, which makes them appear a harder target, and they are able to conduct searches more effectively and efficiently than previously," said Jurilla. "In the end, they are able to keep us, themselves, and the citizens of Iraq safer."

"Since we also taught the course with the expectation that those receiving training should be able to teach their peers what they have learned, the course also increased their preparation to execute internal training according to their officers' guidance," he added.

To improve the operational efficiency, particularly during peak hours, the employment of the Mobile Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System, or MVACIS, makes searching larger vehicles quicker and more thorough. Advanced equipment to include the MVACIS is becoming the technological standard for port of entry police and aims to strengthen the security of Iraq.

"The advise and assist mission allows U.S. forces to build a strong working relationship with their Iraqi counterparts, while, in the process, continuing to work toward an independent, efficient, and technically and tactically proficient Iraqi unit," said Watkins.

(1st Lt. Juan Torres Jr. serves with 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment.)