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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005

Part III

Toward the Objective: Building a New Iraq

Chapter 11
Training the Iraqi Security Forces


Iraqi Border Security

CPA Order No. 26 created the Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) on 24 August 2003 placing it under the control of the MOI, and making it responsible for border policing, customs, passports, and immigration procedures. However, despite the creation of the DBE, border security remained an extremely thorny problem until the DBE program came under the supervision of MNSTC-I in mid-2004.90 As a result, the Iraqi Government lost billions of dollars in potential tax revenue due to smuggling. More importantly, the routes into Iraq from Syria and Iran were plentiful and easy to infiltrate for terrorists and insurgents.

In some parts of Iraq, US forces developed their own ad hoc methods of securing the borders in their AORs. The 101st ABN conducted operations in northern Iraq near the Syrian border where foreign insurgents were able to infiltrate into the country. Brigadier General Frank Helmick, Assistant Division Commander for Operations (ADC-O) for the 101st ABN, described the border crossing sites as “a two-lane road, probably just a little bit bigger than the width of this room, and you had these big trucks crossing and there was no tariff.”1 To secure this area, the 101st ABN, particularly the 3d BCT commanded by Colonel Michael Linnington, undertook the massive project of rebuilding the border facilities, constructing a berm complex, and training the new Iraqi border police. The 2d and 3d Battalions of the 187th Infantry led the effort of rebuilding the forts, and by the time winter came, these forts consisted of covered buildings, a mess hall, sleeping accommodations, water, and vehicles. In cooperation with Iraqi and US Army Engineers, the Soldiers of the 3d BCT completed a 270-kilometer berm to inhibit smuggling and infiltrators.92 A tariff of $10 for cars and $20 for trucks was imposed to further improve the border patrol, and the secure border allowed trade with Syria to resume, which bolstered the local economy.93 Soon after the border opened, goods came flooding into Iraq. Automobiles, which were heavily taxed during Saddam’s era, became the most popular import while Iraqi farmers exported large amounts of grain to Syria.94

While units of the 101st ABN stepped up their oversight, they also trained Iraqis to control the borders. Soldiers helped Iraqi Kurds in As Sulamaniyah province establish an all-female unit to help search women crossing the Jordanian border as potential insurgent couriers carrying equipment and messages for terrorists. This unit gained the attention of many Iraqis, some of whom criticized the female officers because they symbolized a break from traditional values while others applauded the initiative as a step forward for the involvement of women in the public life of the new Iraq.95

To the south the 3d ACR, responsible for Al Anbar province, secured the porous border with Syria, helping to deter insurgents from slipping into Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel Greg Reilly of the 1st Squadron, 3d ACR did not have enough Soldiers to secure the entire 200 kilometer border, but by focusing on the high traffic crossing areas on the Euphrates River, they achieved considerable success in halting insurgent movement.96 In southern Iraq the 2d Squadron, 3d ACR, provided extensive training to the Iraqi Border Police, and although some initial recruits failed to report for duty, by January 2004 the squadron’s G Troop had a formation of 180 Iraqi Border Police at the Al-Waleed border crossing point and thousands of Iraqi citizens were able to cross the border to Saudi Arabia for the religious pilgrimage to Mecca.97

Chapter 11. Training the Iraqi Security Forces

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