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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


CPATT Evolves to Meet the Enemy

While the mission of the IPS was to be a traditional civilian public safety and security agency, the force soon found itself facing a different reality, one in which its officers were on the front lines confronting a violent insurgency. The insurgent network quickly targeted the IPS with its attacks; but without proper equipment and training, the IPS forces were simply not able to counter the threat. Intimidation, fear, poor training, and lack of equipment caused many policemen to desert their posts in 2003 and 2004. IPS Sergeant Walid Hani Hamid, who served in the capital, told an American journalist in May 2004, “All the policemen are afraid. People think the Iraqi police are walking hand in hand with the Americans.”182 Iraqi Officer Maytham Talib quit his job in August 2004 and fled after a violent attack. He recounted, “Each one of them had an automatic weapon. The police, we had four rifles, but only two worked. We had seven bullets for each rifle. We ran.”183 Despite suffering significant casualties, Iraqis continued to join the IPS and often displayed tremendous courage and determination. After an attack on the town of Husseiniya in December 2003 that killed 6 Iraqi officers and wounded 15 civilians, Police Colonel Hamad Ghazan said, “It will do nothing. We won’t be affected by this. We are going to serve Iraq. We are going to serve the Iraqi people.”184

While CMATT was increasing the scope and nature of training for the Iraqi military forces, CPATT was also evolving to meet the insurgent threat. In his early assessment of the IPS, Lieutenant General Petraeus found that the police were inadequately trained and equipped for the high-level threat posed by the insurgency.185 Building on the existing basic training, CPATT added practical survival skills, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency techniques. As more Iraqi police completed training, an increasing number of Iraqi instructors returned to the academies in Iraq and Jordan. The increase in the number of Iraqi instructors allowed the MOI to assert ownership of the program, and the ability of these trainers to communicate in their own language enhanced efficiency and effectiveness.186

By mid-2004 CPATT had successfully expanded its police training to improve the leadership and flexibility of the IPS. On 7 July 2004, 80 IPS officers graduated from a special course at the Adnan Training Facility that included classes on mid-level management, basic criminal investigations, criminal intelligence, and executive leadership.187 The CPATT added specialized courses and refresher classes to the police curriculum enabling the police to practice with their weapons, now including AK-47s and machineguns, and learn advanced techniques such as identifying IEDs. Other training included courses on human rights and treatment of detainees.188

After completion of the police academy, MNSTC-I placed new police officers on joint patrols with Coalition forces. Partnered with Coalition civilian police advisors or MPs, the new officers received on-the-job training with Coalition Soldiers before working independently.189 At times, US Soldiers used some unorthodox techniques to instill leadership and pride within the ranks. These methods included the screening of Hollywood movies such as “SWAT,” “Bad Boys,” and the television series “Band of Brothers.” While these films provided motivation for the new Iraqi policemen, they were most impressed with American technology and training. Captain Christian Solinsky noted, “As soon as they would see a movie, they would ask us when they were getting more radios, more body armor, and weapons like [those in the movie].”190

Distinguished Service Cross
An American Advisor and His
Iraqi Unit in Combat

On 24 August 2005, General George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel James H. Coffman for actions in November 2004. In the fall of 2004, Colonel Coffman was serving as the Senior Advisor to the Iraqi 3d Battalion, 1st Special Police Commando Brigade. On 14 November 2004, elements of that battalion were part of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that responded to help other commandos at a police station in the city of Mosul defend their position from a heavy insurgent assault. As they neared the Police Station, Coffman and the QRF came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), mortars, and machineguns. After relieving the besieged force at the station, the QRF fought the insurgents for the next 5.5 hours. The citation for his award described the critical role played by Coffman inside the station, “with all but one of the commando officers killed or seriously wounded by the initial enemy fire, Colonel Coffman exhibited truly inspirational leadership, rallying the commandos and organizing a hasty defense while attempting to radio higher headquarters for reinforcements. Under heavy fire, he moved from commando to commando, looking each in the eye and using hand and arm signals to demonstrate what he wanted done.”

Colonel Coffman was wounded when machinegun fire hit his shooting hand and damaged his M4 rifle. Despite his injury and the loss of his rifle, Coffman picked up ammunition and an AK-47 and fired that weapon while continuing to advise the Iraqi commandos. When other police units arrived as reinforcements, he positioned them and stayed to help prevent the station from falling into enemy hands. Only after he supervised the evacuation of Iraqi policemen wounded in the action did Colonel Coffman seek medical attention for his hand. During the battle, 12 commandos were killed and 24 were wounded. The Iraqi police and their advisor had succeeded in protecting the station and inflicted heavy losses on the insurgent enemy.

The award citation recognized Coffman for his “exceptionally valorous conduct” during the battle and emphasized that if not for the bravery of the American advisor and the one Iraqi police officer that had remained unwounded throughout the battle, the police station would have
likely been overrun.

Sergeant Lorie Jewell, “Colonel receives
DSC for leading Iraqi commandos,”
Army News Service, 24 August 2005.

MNSTC-I also assisted the Iraqi MOI establish the IHP to help secure Iraq’s highways and provide convoy security. Initially planned as a force of 1,500 officers, the Ministry later ordered the increase of the force to 6,300. The IHP’s ability to secure roadways freed up Coalition troops and the ISF to perform other security missions. Additionally, the IHP provided much needed help discovering and disarming numerous IEDs.191

More important was the introduction to the IPS of paramilitary forces similar to the gendarmerie in countries of Europe. The MOI created three police commando brigades, some equipped with wheeled, armored vehicles. Initially trained by handpicked Iraqi leaders selected by the commander of the special police forces, over time a special police academy was established to train leaders of the commando units. In addition to tactical and technical subjects, the academy curriculum included focused training on safeguarding human rights.192 Another MOI force, the so-called “public order” units were much more problematic in 2004. Recruited almost entirely from Shia neighborhoods around Baghdad and locations in southern Iraq, these units were not under MNSTC-I supervision. They were regarded by Sunnis as evidence of Shia abuse of their power as head of the MOI.

These police commando forces proved their ability to work within their own culture and engage insurgent networks. In the city of Samarra, commandos detained 200 suspected anti-Iraq forces and discovered more than 20 weapons caches before the 30 January 2005 elections. Proud of his unit’s accomplishments, MOI Special Police Commando Major Ibrahim stated, “We know who the leaders are here. They are too scared to stay in Samarra because they fear the MOI Special Police Commandos. We will come to them and we will get them. We will not stop until Samarra is 100-percent safe.”193 Other special police units deployed to Mosul, after the police forces in that northern city collapsed in November 2004 in combat that saw American advisors like US Army Colonel James H. Coffman fighting alongside Iraqi police officers. The special police units helped restore order in Mosul and assisted Coalition units there to rebuild Mosul’s security forces. During the months leading up to the 30 January 2005 Iraqi elections, the Commandos proved to be the most courageous and aggressive of Iraq’s civilian security forces.194

In some parts of Iraq, the IPS did not increase in professionalism and competence. To improve and foster the IPS in these areas, CPATT developed the Provincial Police Partnership Program (P3P). Coalition military and civilian advisor teams embedded with the MOI, provincial police headquarters, and local police stations to provide hands-on mentorship to the IPS leadership. Because Iraq was a sovereign country, however, Coalition leaders needed to consult the MOI for training design and approval of programs. MNSTC-I police planner, Major Hauser, recalled the serious limitations facing the Coalition’s vision for the police:

The situation was extremely complex, because you had the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, who technically we had transferred power over to. And as they became stronger and started to act on their own accord, it was harder for us to direct operations and what they wanted. As US and Coalition forces, we had certain things we wanted to accomplish, but sometimes those wouldn’t be on the same playing field as what the ministry wanted to do.195

Like Coalition police advisors in the field, Hauser and others working with senior MOI leaders found compromise was the best path to success in working with their Iraqi counterparts.196

Chapter 11. Training the Iraqi Security Forces

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