Federal Police (FP) Equipment
Each FP unit is equipped by MOI based on a standardized and published MTOE. Generally the units are fairly well equipped with hardware and the FP has gone through several iterations of fielding for vehicles and uniforms. The major problem is that the end item is issued in compliance with the MTOE, but many units lack the subcomponents of an end item or have the inability to replace worn out parts or items and the inability to effectively maintain the authorized equipment. This often results in units or individuals purchasing their own equipment (often black market) or the unit using funds marked for food to purchase repair parts.
The FP rely on two means for primary communications; Motorola ICOM radios (or compatible models) and cellular telephones. There are very few tactical radio systems available and few if any subject matter experts available for maintenance and repair. The major challenge presented with this hardware is communications security.
It is very common for the FP leadership to carry several cell phones and is the principal means of communicating with other commanders and senior staff officers as well as with their Coalition forces partners and even the Advisors. Cell phones have the potential to be monitored and present a security risk as they could be captured and/or stolen and exploited by insurgents or criminals. Coalition Forces Electronic Countermeasure (ECM) devices also have a disruptive effect on the use of cell phones as communication. However, to the FP leadership the convenience of cell phones, and the fact that it is often the only means of communicating with each other, will outweigh the associated risks and complications.
Cell phones have become very accessible in Iraq and most of the Shurta have their own phone. This tends to be a double edged sword as it helps the enlisted members of the units stay in contact with the unit and their families; but on the negative side it can be at best a distraction and at worst an OPSEC breach. Most units have a stated policy that personal cell phones are not allowed to be used on duty, but the results of enforcement of this policy are mixed.
The ICOM radios are more secure because they have encryption capability but also have the risk of being monitored and exploited. The ICOMs are usually located with the checkpoint commanders and patrol leaders as well as at the operations headquarters of each echelon. Each echelon will have its assigned frequencies and net. The traffic on the radio can be very high at times, but it gives the benefit of increased situational awareness across the units. As with the other FP equipment there tends to be problems in maintenance and replacing parts and accessories, especially batteries. Communications suffers from the immature and often ineffective MOI supply system. Accountability can also be a problem.
The majority of staff to staff communication is conducted via staff couriers delivering reports to headquarters. The FP have made significant improvements in automation, but limit the use of computers to generating reports and briefings. Computer viruses are a major problem for the FP and tend to cripple their ability to network among units and headquarters.
The FP are armed much more heavily than a traditional police force. The Shurta carry rifles and patrol vehicles are heavily armed. However, the FP are not as heavily armed as the Iraqi Army. Standard weapons include pistols, light and heavy machine guns, and assault rifles. Most officers carry a Glock 19 (9mm) pistol in a hip holster. The Glock is the most common pistol used by both MOI and MOD. Some Officers and NCOs may carry a pistol that is personal weapon. The types these weapons vary.
The standard weapon for a Shurta is the AK-47. Most of these rifles are surplus from the former regime and the Iraqi government has redistributed. The level of maintenance varies from very good to poor depending on the unit and the skill of the individual armorer at that unit. Generally the rifles are not zeroed, but Shurta are assigned individual weapons. Accountability also varies from unit to unit, but is usually decent because individuals do not want to give up or lose their weapons.
The most common light machine gun used by the FP is the PK Machine Gun. The PKM fires belt fed 7.62x54mm ammunition from an open bolt. It has open sights similar to that of an AK. The maintenance of the PKM also varies among units. Muzzle awareness and safety are larger concerns with the PKM. The Shurta that carry the PKM rarely have any significant training with the weapon and are usually selected because of their body size. The PKM is common at the checkpoints, but is often employed incorrectly or ineffectively (i.e. – not oriented on high speed avenues of approach or on high ground supporting the position).
Many units use the DShK 12.7mm anti aircraft machine guns mounted to patrol trucks. The weapons are mostly previously captured or were discarded by the former Iraqi Army and most are reconditioned or rebuilt by cannibalizing other discarded weapons. The DShK is usually mounted in the bed of a patrol vehicle and rigged with a gunner’s seat mounted to the base of the weapon. There is very little training conducted with these heavy weapons and safety is a major concern. In most cases the gunner or the weapon are not capable of depressing or rotating the weapon to prevent “flashing” other personnel or vehicles. Additionally, the drivers will tend to drive at high speeds and make erratic movements while the gunner is positioned behind the loaded weapon. Personnel should be extremely careful and vigilant when operating around these weapons.
There is a proposal to equip the FP with light 60mm mortars in the future, but it is unclear if it will be approved for a government force other than the army to have that type of weapon. It is common for FP units to keep some captured weapons and ammunition if confiscated. This is authorized, but the unit is supposed to report any weapons retained. Often units will keep RPGs, which are not authorized by MTOE, to use for base defense. Sniper rifles are also often retained. The FP are NOT authorized to keep mortars, munitions or explosives. Those items are to be turned over to Iraqi EOD, or can be turned over to Coalition Forces for forensic exploitation.
The Iraqi FP use several types of vehicles ranging from pick-up trucks to armored vehicles. The FP use a blue and white paint scheme associated with police forces. Red and Blue police light bars are usually mounted on top of the vehicles. The most common vehicles are pick-ups. These vehicles range from small Chevy LUVs and Ford Rangers, Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado, to bigger models like the F-350. Most of the pickups are modified with fabricated steel plates on the doors and in the bed for small arms protection.
The FP are also equipped with a significant number of M1114 Armored HMMWVs which have been reconditioned and transferred from U.S. forces. The M1114 has armor on both sides as well as the bottom providing better protection than the “add on” armored pickups the FP use. Another benefit is the weapons turret that provides a platform meant to hold and fire the weapon. However, the mounts usually have to be modified to hold the PKM type weapons of the FP. The M114s have also been painted in the blue and white police scheme of the FP. The major challenge is in maintenance. The FP have a training program established, but still are limited on certified and capable HMMWV mechanics. U.S. forces partnered with the FP are able to help as far as maintenance training; however ordering parts is a significant problem. The U.S. forces used M1151 model HMMWVs, and although the vehicles look similar, especially to an Iraqi, the parts association is only 40% the same. The MOI is establishing a contract for M1114 parts but it is unclear how efficient the contract will be, how long it will last, and how it will fit with unit level field maintenance of the FP.
REVA armored vehicles are present usually at the Brigade HQ level. The Brigade will usually have 10-12 of the vehicles. REVAs are a 4x4 personnel carrier that offers more protection against IEDs, RPGs and sniper fire than the ad hoc armored pick-ups. It can seat 10 passengers and is equipped with two hatches for light machine guns. Maintenance and parts replacement are a concern for these vehicles. It is common for the vehicles to be static at important points such as bridge crossings but many units effectively use the vehicles for route clearance operations. The Mechanized Brigade is equipped with the BRDM armored vehicles, mostly BDRM-2s. The Mech Brigade maintained the desert sand color scheme on the vehicles. The vehicles are often used to establish strong points and for route clearance.
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