Federal Police (FP)
Federal police and security organs are tainted with sectarian tendencies and mired in corruption. The heavy-handed policies Iraqi security forces pursued mainly in predominantly Sunni areas are reported to have caused mounting resentment of the government and pushed many Sunnis to welcome Islamic Sate militants in their areas.
The Iraqi prime minister pledged 29 January 2015 an urgent investigation into accounts that Iraqi security forces and Shia militias gunned down dozens of unarmed villagers after fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. Mohammad Salem al-Ghabban, Iraq's interior minister, led the investigation. Shia armed men accompanied by Interior Ministry SWAT teams and Iraqi soldiers rounded up men in the Sunni village of Barwana. After accusing them of belonging to ISIL, survivors said they were marched to a nearby field where the armed men took away men from the group, and shot them behind a wall. More than 80 civilians were shot dead.
Although they were called police, the National Police had been trained primarily for military operations, and received little traditional police training. They have proven useful in fighting the insurgency, but frequent allegations of abuse and other illegal activities diminished the Iraqi public’s confidence in the National Police.
The Iraqi National Police was re-designated as the Federal Police effective 1 August 2009. Aside from the name, there were no major changes to the structure or operations of the force. The Federal Police (FP) is a paramilitary gendarmerie type force designed to bridge the gap between local policing and the army, allowing the MOl to project power across provinces and maintain law and order while an effective community police is developed. Although called police, the force has been trained primarily for military operations.
The CPA had recognized the need for a “high-end” paramilitary police force in early 2004. However, the National Police (NP), originally called the Special Police Forces, lack a “charter” in CPA orders that established other security organs. The National Police include special police commando brigades and public order brigades. The special police commando units were an Iraqi Minister of Interior initiative created without Coalition assistance. Public Order units were to act, “… as a bridging force to restore and maintain law and order in cities where the police force [had] not yet been established or [would] be reconstituted due to insurgent activity.”
The MOI tasked these forces with “providing a national rapid-response capability to counter armed insurgency, large-scale civil disobedience, and riots. Additionally, the MOI created a mobile capability in the 1st Special Police Mechanized brigade to provide route security along the highway between the International [Green] Zone and Baghdad International Airport. Originally the FP was the Iraqi Special Police with two separate organizations. The Special Police Commandos were organized to conduct counter-insurgency, cordon-and-search, and forced entry operations to gather intelligence and capture terrorists. The Public Order Division was to provide a national level rapid response police capability to counter large scale civil unrest and insurgency.
Initially, the operational effectiveness of all MOI forces was hindered by sectarian, primarily Shi’a, influence. In early 2005 Bayan Jabr Solagh, a senior official of the Shiite Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), was appointed interior minister. Jabr placed leaders of the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of SCIRI, in key positions in the ministry and recruited thousands of Shiite militiamen to replace Sunnis in the Special Police Commando units. Initially Badr Brigade Shi’a militiamen were organized into commando-style units, which were incorporated into the Iraqi National Police. During Jabr’s one-year tenure, from April 2005 to May 2006, members of the IPS and Special Police Commando units acted as death squads, kidnapping, imprisoning, torturing, and killing Sunnis.
In August 2005, the Special Police Forces were renamed the National Police Forces. By September 2005, the MOI Special Police Forces had grown to 12 public order battalions, special police command battalions, 2 mechanized battalions, and an emergency response unit. During 2005 the U.S. Government reported positively on the NP.
In May 2006 the DOD 9010 Report to Congress alluded to “[a]llegations of detainee abuse, and extrajudicial police actions.” The Ministry of Interior, concerned about a pattern of unprofessional and even criminal behavior on the part of many National Police units, started pulling National Police brigades out of counterinsurgency operations for retraining. The centerpiece of this program, called the National Police Transformation Plan, was a three-week training course focused on civil policing skills and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Because of frequent allegations of abuse and violent sectarian activities, the government of Iraq decided to reform and retrain the Special Police forces. Both the Commandos and the Public Order Division were disbanded and roughly 60% of the members were kept and retrained to form a new force. The National Police (NP) was formed as police organization capable of performing criminal investigations as well as tactical operations. The National Police organized as an Independent Directorate of the MOI with a into a National Police headquarters directly under the Minister of Interior and two national police divisions. The National Police were organized with a National Police [Command] Headquarters, under which fell the 1st and 2nd National Police Divisions, the 1st National Police Mechanized Brigade, and the ERU. These two divisions were formed from the Commando Division and the Public Order Division.
The chronology of these events is poorly attested. One source reports that the Iraqi National Police was formed when the Special Police Commandos and the Public Order Police were merged in May 2005, but this is surely a typo, and off by a year. Another source reports that the Minister of Interior signed an order to reorganize and merge the Police Commandos, the Public Order and Mechanized Police, and the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to form a single force, the Iraqi National Police, on April 1, 2006 [this seems correct], while third sources dates these events to the fall of 2006, a date which much reference the implementation of these reforms rather than their initiation.
Since assuming his post in late 2006, LTG Hussain Al-Awadi, fired about 9,000 officers and commanders to eliminate death squads and corruption within his ranks. Under his command, the Shiite-dominated National Police ranks grew from a 26,000-man force to approximately 42,000 personnel. He improved training and professionalism, worked to remove corruption, improved the ethnic and religious diversity in the ranks and implement a police code of ethics.
The Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq was chartered by the United States Congress in Public Law 110-28, signed into law by President George W. Bush on May 25, 2007, to assess the readiness of Iraq's military and police forces to fulfill four major responsibilities: maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq, deny safe haven to international terrorists, bring greater security to the country's 18 provinces in the next 12 to 18 months, and bring an end to sectarian violence to achieve national reconciliation.
The Congressionally-funded Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq (Jones Report), strongly criticized the Ministry of Interior for its corruption and sectarianism, reserving special emphasis for the problems within the National Police (the MoI's Gendarmerie-like element) and calling for it to be disbanded. A year later and under the leadership of Iraqi Minister of Interior Jawad al-Bolani, by mid-2008 some important changes had taken place. Within the Iraqi National Police, each of the nine brigade commanders in place when the Jones Report was published had been replaced, as had 27 battalion commanders. The effort to professionalize the National Police now also includes professional training and leader development. By October 2007, all members of the National Police Brigade completed brigade level training. Over 1500 National Police received training at the Carabinieri Training Camp (the first graduates of that program - the National Emergency Response Unit - acquitted themselves extremely well during the initial phases of the Operation Charge of the Knights, to clear Basra of JAM forces). By 2010 the majority Shia Iraqi Federal Police (FP) force was fully capable of conducting effective battalion-level COIN operations throughout Iraq, and FP units were succeeding in their efforts to combat terrorism and reduce large-scale social unrest. The FP works in conjunction with the IA and the IP to fulfill the provincial security needs of the Iraqi people. The Minister of Interior, Jawad al Bolani, indicated that he intended for the FP to be the primary force securing Baghdad, which would enable the IA and IP to assume more traditional security roles within the country. FP headquarters elements started to review their staff planning procedures in preparation for “Police Primacy in Baghdad,” and their overall role in fulfilling the Baghdad security mission. The review was an update to work completed in 2009, but also specified the manpower, equipment, and financial resources that the FP will need to complete this mission.
As of mid-2010 FP manning was approximately 43,000 personnel. The MoI had authorized the FP to hire 52% of its 89,810 Modified Table of Organization and Equipment (MTOE) personnel strength. The MoI’s hiring freeze had been in effect since late 2008 and restricted the FP’s necessary expansion. The FP maintained a large roster of potential recruits, but they were still waiting for the MoI to grant permission for additional hires. Unit strength decreased slightly in early 2010 due to FP leadership executing qualitative separations in order to maintain the overall quality of the force. Despite personnel limitations, the Iraqi FP was still an effective fighting force with an exceptional reputation for competence and “can do” leadership.
Early 2010 marked the start of the resubordination of the Baghdad Provincial Emergency Response Units into the FP ranks, which will potentially brought an additional 2,000 to 3,000 personnel into the FP. To support this expansion, the FP maintained a versatile and capable training system, assisted by the Italian Carabinieri, who continued to advise and train the FP. In turn, the FP offered their training capacity to assist other MoI organizations in their readiness efforts, most notably the Kurdish Zervani, and IP Emergency Response Units from Mosul.
Finally, the continued support of the MoI was required to plan the equipping and infrastructure improvements required for the new units as well as the ongoing need to replenish existing unit equipment and improve unit-basing locations. Despite its many challenges, the FP remained an effective nonsectarian fighting force that had demonstrated its ability to perform effective counterinsurgency operations throughout Iraq with limited resources. Additional personnel, training, and equipment would help fill out the FP, allowing for greater mission capability and potential.
Operational security (OPSEC) is a persistent and overriding issue with the operations of the FP. Often, subordinate commanders are not told of a mission until the last possible moment. That is also why it is common to see planning held close to a commander and S3. The S3 may plan a large and complex mission on his own, never telling his own operations staff about the operation. The prevailing thought is that once sensitive information is out, it will quickly be spread and the enemy will know. This belief is not unfounded. There is a web of personal, family, tribal and other issues that will affect the security of information in any unit. If the Shurta know details of the mission there is a good chance the criminal or insurgent groups will know as well.
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