Cavalry Assists in Police Recruiting Effort
Baghdad, Iraq -- An Iraqi Police candidate screening session took place on Jan. 11 at the Baghdad Convention Center in the International Zone to screen Iraqis applying to join the Iraqi Police Force.
Hundreds of Iraqis -- many not from Baghdad -- showed up to the event, which is held once a month by the Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
According to Capt. Paul Mitura of Company B, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to Task Force 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT, more than 300 Iraqis were lined up at a checkpoint outside the International Zone before the screening process got underway.
"Unfortunately, we're only going to be able to allow about 230 through today," said Mitura, a Woodsboro, N.Y., native observing the screening process on Jan. 11.
All of the IP applicants came recommended by their district councils, according to Pottsville, Pa., native Maj. James Joos, commander of Company B, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to the 3rd BCT. His Soldiers were in charge of the overall running of the event.
"It is important that they come recommended because if the Iraqi Police don't have the trust of the community, then you don't have a viable police force," Joos said.
Many of the Iraqis who were not from Baghdad came at the recommendation of the Iraqi Assistance Center from areas such as Basrah.
"The Iraqi Assistance Center asked if an overflow of applicants from others areas could be sent our way and of course, we didn't say no," he said.
During the screening process, the applicants were escorted in groups of approximately 20 from the checkpoint to a paved stretch of road next to the convention center where they underwent a physical fitness test.
The areas of physical fitness that the applicants were tested in involved a 1500-meter run, a 100-meter dash, pushups and pull-ups, according to Sgt. Walter Miscles, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. Those applicants who passed the fitness test were then brought into an auditorium in the convention center where they had to take a literacy test.
"It's important that police officers be able to read and write but for whatever reason, this month we had a rather high illiteracy rate," Joos said.
Following that, each candidate then underwent a background check and an interview with an Iraqi Police officer, assisted by Soldier from a military intelligence company.
"It's vastly important that the IP officers themselves conduct these interviews because it is their police force after all," Joos said. "Our MI Soldiers are really there just to ensure that the applicants' documents authentic."
After passing the interview, the IP candidates then underwent a quick medical screening, checking things such as vision, blood pressure and cardio-pulmonary health.
"It's basically just a quick head to toe exam to ascertain that they don't have any major health problems," said Capt. Martin Rose, a medical officer with E Company, 215th Forward Support Battalion, 3rd BCT. "If the applicants pass everything, then they'll get a much more thorough physical exam from an Iraqi doctor later on."
In all, 258 applicants made it through the entire screening process.
"The critical things that follow this initial step are the training that these IP candidates will receive at the Baghdad Police Academy, the field training they will get working with our [Military Police] and the additional on-the-job training they get from their co-workers and the [Civilian Police Assistant Trainers]," Joos said.
According to Joos, those that didn't pass are welcome to return the following month and try again.
"One of the main Civil Affairs missions here is to increase the indigenous population's ability to help themselves," Joos said. "That's exactly what we tried to accomplish today."
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