Iraqi_police Sometime after 0200 Operation Alljah began in a middle-class neighborhood in
northern Fallujah.  The Marines of the 2nd Battalion 6th Marines occupied a
police precinct and began a swarm or strategic blocking off of the streets,
in order to control access both in and out of the neighborhood. 

That
morning, by the time I arrived with the 5/10, a civil affairs unit out of
Camp Lejeune, the 2/6 were firmly ensconced in the east side of the concrete
precinct, the 5/10 took the west and the Iraqi Police seemed to have
everything in control.
Since traveling north from Kuwait on an Army convoy, and crossing into
Baghdad, and later Camp Fallujah, I had always heard stories of how bad,
corrupt and unprofessional the Iraqi police is.  "They smile at us because
they know there’s an IED planted ahead," said one platoon leader.  An Iraqi
interpreter said they were "not to be trusted", and troops in the Green Zone
handled all security so they had little interaction with the Iraqi police
and even fewer compliments.
That all changed when we were at the police precinct in Fallujah and a
police officer blocked a suicide bomber from passing through the 2nd layer
of security for screening potential recruits.  Although the press reported
20 victims, there was in fact only one, the suicide bomber.  Call me
old-fashion, but when someone protects you, even inadvertently, I feel he’s
due a fresh benefit of the doubt, so I talked to a couple of police officers
and recruits through the interpreter. 
Most of the officers were from the neighborhood or Fallujah, which meant
they were taking a great risk.  The "bad guys" as the interpreter called
them, often targeted the politicians, the businessmen and the police.   Many
officers wore ski-masks so as not to be recognized by someone who may have
had issues with authority figures, and what figures they were.  In their
ill-fitting blue shirts, mismatched uniforms and barely any firepower, the
Fallujah police were a Sunni version of the keystone cops.

Despite my perception of Iraqi Police, there was a line of over 300 men who
wanted to join the auxiliary neighborhood watch program, with the aspiration
of becoming one of those policemen.  Marines from the 2/6 and 5/10 attempted
to barter for the Fallujah Police t-shirts, but I didn’t see any of the
officers make the exchange (the last bid in earshot was $50 dollars, which
represented a month’s pay for some).   The Iraqi army, many of whom were
shia foreigners to the city, was better armed and, most felt, better
trained, but the men of the Fallujah police force knew the terrain and
gathered more valuable intelligence.  Historically very insular, someone
from Fallujah confided more in a fellow Fallujan than in any foreigner,
American or otherwise.  The police precinct showed promise, I learned that a
police officer had uncovered information on insurgent activity that lead to
an arrest. 
Since their arrival, the infantrymen of the 2/6 had taken an RPG and some
small arms fire.  A young lieutenant told me an Iraqi police recruit, who
was shot in the finger, proudly showed him the wound and told him he was
happy to prove himself to the Marine.  The lieutenant later remarked "He
didn’t have to go through that much trouble to prove himself," I thought
about how much these current and future officers would have to face to make
the city and concluded that maybe he did.   

Comments

  1. To our Marines – God Bless You!!! –
    I have never written to someone when I had no idea who they are – BUT, I do
    know you – You are a United States Marine And I want to tell you how very
    proud I am – and how proud we all are of what you are doing for us.
    I know some of the hardships with which you are living – I am a combat vet
    myself, though of some years ago in VietNam. I know it is hard to be away
    from family and loved ones, to have to live in primitive conditions, to
    constantly be threatened with grave harm or death, to take care of your
    fellow Marines..
    I also know quite first-hand what it is like to be in combat when the
    American media try to portray you in the worst light, when they don’t
    accurately report to the American people what you are doing, when they even
    sometimes seem to be against you -when they cannot find one simple positive
    thing to pass to the American public.. I also know it is especially hard
    when some of our own elected representatives are so vocal in their lack of
    support for you and all of your sacrifices – I also know that those same
    media and those politicians do NOT represent me – and they do NOT represent
    the majority of the American public – they do not represent the millions of
    us who are never represented in those terribly wrong polls – they do NOT
    represent the millions of us who value your sacrifice, the sacrifice of your
    loved ones in your heroic fight for us against terrorism.
    It is you – and those on the battlefields with you – who will determine the
    fate of America, whether this country will continue to be a land of free and
    prosperous people, or one that will be forced to cower, to forever live
    under the dark clouds of oppression at the hands of Islamic extremists. I
    know you will be victorious – that you will carry on your proud heritage
    and be successful in vanquishing our enemies – My words are so small in the
    face of what you are and what you are doing – For all you have given – and
    all the rest I know you will give – thank you and God Bless you!!
    XX XXXXX XXXXX
    Captain, U.S. Navy, Ret

  2. To the gentleman that made the above comment, I would like to say THANK YOU for your service for this country. Please know, that while many people turned on our troops and never gave them the proper THANK YOU or the proper WELCOME HOME, hold in your heart that there ARE MANY OF US WHO LOVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID. We stand in complete awe of all of our troops, past and present.

  3. There is a sense of excitement and pride in these stories we don’t get to hear often enough. I, too, thank the Captain for his service and as ever the Major’s and that of all our troops and veterans and loyal Iraqis and the patriotism of such troop supporters as Gunny Taylor B and her mother.

  4. Thank you so much for putting these stories out there. My eMOM guys often say thanks for lifting their spirits but can’t tell what’s really going on over there. I know not to ask and also know to come and not CNN to find out the truth. Thank you to each and everyone of you and to the Iraqi’s who are truly trying to make a difference.

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