BAGHDAD, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 27, 2007) -- One of the biggest areas of focus in northwest Baghdad is training the Iraqi volunteers who have stepped up to ensure freedom and democracy in their own neighborhoods.

In early December, Soldiers with both Battery A and B of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, began recruitment drives in the Hateen and Yarmouk neighborhoods. Soldiers there were able to narrow the number of applicants down to about 150 volunteers.

Those volunteers will train initially to serve as members of the Iraqi Police Auxiliary. As part of the auxiliary, they will patrol their neighborhoods, acting
almost as a neighborhood watch.

Soldiers of Battery A and B are training the men on basic military and policing skills. The men are training on everything from weapons and countering-improvised explosive devices, to proper police ethics and values training.

"We are trying to instill certain core values in the trainees," said 1st Lt. Douglas McDonough, with 2nd Platoon, Battery A. "We are tailoring their training to the Iraqi society, but at the same time ensuring we instill the basic skills and situational awareness each policeman must be keen on."

Capt. Brian McCall, commander, Battery A, said serving as part of the of the Iraqi Police Auxiliary brings a sense of ownership for their homeland to volunteers.

"These men want to help their neighborhood, and in doing so, it gives them a sense of pride for security in their neighborhood," he said. "In these volunteers, people will see friendly faces in their neighborhood; guys they have known all their lives, working to protect them. If a guy they know and trust is patrolling the streets in front of their house, it will make them feel a lot better. I think it can be a turning point for this community."

Volunteers for the Iraqi Police Auxiliary may eventually be called upon to begin training at the Baghdad Police Academy, where they become official Iraqi policemen.