Friday, September 07, 2007

Soldiers help legitimize concerned citizens

Sgt. 1st Class Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) PAO
Multi-National Division – Center

PATROL BASE WARRIOR KEEP, Iraq — Local police forces are vital to order and safety in Iraqi villages, but some communities have not seen a law enforcement presence for years.
Coalition troops are helping concerned citizens fill this gap, paving the way for them to become legitimate Iraqi police officers.
To assist in the process, Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, and 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, both from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), out of Fort Drum, N.Y., tested Iraqi police recruits at Patrol Base Warrior Keep Sept. 4-6.
More than 700 Iraqi men from each of the seven tribes within Sadr al Yusufiyah showed up for the drive, but only 412 made the cut.
The recruits were selected from a group of concerned local citizens by Sheiks and other operational leaders to become official members of the Iraqi police.
Concerned citizens, who have been working with Soldiers for nearly three months, have not been allowed to act as an official part of the government before, but IP recruiting represents change within the 2nd BCT’s area of operations.
“Having the government recognize these concerned citizens will help to build grassroots security within the local populace,” said Lt. Col. John Valledor, of Weehawken, N.J., commander, 2-14th Inf. Regt. “Before, the concerned citizens had no real authority to enforce the law, but getting them legitimized will enable them to enforce the rule of law.”
Choosing the candidates did not come easy. Each candidate was selected based on physical fitness, age and basic literacy skills.
After candidates were screened at the local level, their names were submitted to the Iraqi government with the intent of manning the new IP station forming in Sadr al Yusufiyah.
“There has not been a local police station in Sadr al Yusufiyah in four years,” Valledor said. “But we are on the road to establishing governance within this area.”
The police station, which is scheduled for completion within a year, will be built on a piece of land donated from a private land owner and supported by a local sheik.
The new police station will house newly transitioned concerned citizens when they become official members of the Iraqi police.

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