Federal Police (FP) Personnel
Corruption, favoritism and nepotism are a common aspect of the FP. The level it is found in an individual unit is the function of the leadership. The critical points for corruption in the process are with the records and the Per Diem. It is common to find that the units books are “cooked,” i.e. – nonexistent employees are carried on the rosters. At first glance this seems to be a prime example of personal corruption, but in some instances there are good intentions behind this. Some examples may be that the families of Shurta killed in the line of duty are being taken care of by carrying the deceased on the books and giving the families the pay. Other less charitable instances are a Commander using the money for bribes or simply enriching himself. The 90K Dinars per diem is often used in a corrupt manner. Common examples are substandard food being purchased as a low price and pocketing the extra money or using some of the money to purchase fuel for the unit on the black market.
The ranks of the FP are Shiite dominated, but beginning in 2008 a new push to integrate Sunnis in order to diversify the force and shed its sectarian reputation was made. The lack of female Shurta is a persistent problem. There are very few, if any, women in the FP and any that are do not perform policing duties. This cultural issue is difficult for the FP to deal with. The conventional thought is that men protect women in the culture and not the other way around. Yet the FPs run into the problem of dealing with females in their daily tasks such as security voting sites or searching people at religious festivals.
Leadership positions within the units are generally rank heavy. Majors (Raaed) command companies (although Captains and Lieutenants can command), Colonels (Aqeed) command battalions and Brigadier Generals (Aameed) command brigades. There is usually a large number of Colonels at the brigade staff level.
Officers have two methods to enter the FP. First, to have been prior commissioned officers of the old Iraqi Army (usually Military Academy graduates) or commissioned Police Officers in the previous regime. Second, to have a college degree, be accepted and pass a basic officer’s academy. Most officer’s in the second category work in specialized fields that are aligned with their college degree such as communications.
The majority of the Officer and senior NCO leadership of the FP were former army and may be limited on their knowledge of policing operations, but have significant experience managing and employing infantry forces. It is common to see a bias among the officers and within the Shurta against officers who were not previously professional military officers.
It must be considered that some of the officers are politically connected and reached their positions through nepotism. It is also an open secret that commands are “purchased.” Although this comes across as very corrupt, it is their system and is also common in many military forces outside of Iraq. The result, however, is a lack of consistent effective leadership with commanders ranging from proficient, to ineffective, to completely corrupt.
The FP leadership at the unit level varies in quality. The problems are compounded by the fact that the units are extremely command centric. If the commander is ineffective, the unit is usually ineffective. Leadership development includes the delegation of authority, decision making at the appropriate level, leaders taking initiative, and counseling. Some FP commanders delegate effectively by ensuring their executive officers or deputy commanders can make decisions in their absence, others do not. Iraqis are notorious for avoiding development of junior leaders. It is often threatening to them.
The NCO Corps is present, but holds very little true authority. Dependant on individual commanders, a sergeant major may hold a great deal of influence with the commander but it varies by unit and situation. A Shurta is promoted to Sergeant by time in service (four years) and not by merit or potential. The Company Sergeants (First Sergeant) are usually selected because of ability and other qualities.
The quality of the NCOs in the FP was varied. Many of the senior NCOs are veterans of the Iran-Iraq war and as a result may hold some influence with the commanders. Junior NCOs are often promoted only because of time in service and there is little to no professional development for FP NCOs. The overriding challenge is that FP Officers do not value their NCOs, and the Shurta do not respect the position. NCOs need authority and the capability to solve Shurta problems. The instinct of the average Shurta is to go to an officer for every problem. Unless NCOs are given authority and develop the ability the Shurta will not respect them and they will hold little value to the officers. There is no quick solution. NCOs will only be developed by time, training and experience.
The FP is manned with para-military type soldiers called Shurta (Police). It is common for leadership to call the Shurta Jundee (Arabic for soldier), especially if he has a previous army background. In the MOI the Shurta are considered employees, and do not sign enlistments as they do in MOD.
The requirements for employment in the FP are to apply for entry, be able to read and write, pass a physical and pass basic police training. Recruiting is usually held in drives in Baghdad and other larger cities. A part of the vetting process is examining the recruit for scars caused by bullets or knives and questionable tattoos (may indicate criminal or militia affiliation). These things indicate possible involvement in criminal or insurgent activity or past prison time. Recruits cannot have been a member of Sadaam Hussein’s former Intelligence Agency, Special Forces or Sadaam’s personal security detail.
There are background checks that are conducted, but the effectiveness of these checks can be questionable. The ability to read and write is stated a requirement, but many Shurta have entered the force without the ability. The vetting process has improved since prior to 2007. The FP senior command has placed a greater emphasis on quality over quantity. But it still has much room for improvement.
The Iraqi Security Forces (both MOI and MOD) employ what to western standards is a very liberal work leave policy. Generally, a Shurta in the FP works for 21 days and is entitled to seven days of leave (FPs refer to the time off as jasim which roughly translates to vacation or time of rest). In some cases there are two key personnel that occupy one billet and share a weekon week-off schedule.
The Iraqis work what can be described as a firehouse schedule. They live at the HQ, or at the checkpoints, often in very austere conditions, for the entire time that they are on duty. Rarely does a Shurta work near their home and they do not see their families for the entire time they are on duty. With no centralized pay system or electronic payment into a bank account the Shurta have to return home to support their families and give them their pay. This system is similar to the old Iraqi Army system. It can be frustrating but is an established method and system that is an embedded part of the FP culture.
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