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1/19/04 - IRAQI SECURITY - 2004-01-20

When the U.S.-led coalition liberated Iraq, there were no Iraqi police officers on the streets. Today, the Iraqi police force numbers more than sixty-thousand. And in contrast to the brutal practices of the former Baathist regime, Iraq’s new security personnel are being trained to respect human rights.

According to U.S. officials, there were ninety-two murders committed in Baghdad in July. By October, the number was down to twenty-four. A poll taken this month indicates that the Iraqi people trust the Iraqi Police Service above any other security institution. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed say they would like to see more Iraqi policemen in their neighborhoods.

A new Iraqi national army is also being trained. Daniel Senor, senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, says that the security forces, including the army, are representative of Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious groups:

“We have graduated two battalions of the new Iraqi army. The third battalion of the new Iraqi army is scheduled to graduate on January 24th. The fourth one is already recruited. We’re on track to graduate twenty-seven battalions by September.”

The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps is working with coalition forces to eliminate remnants of the old regime and foreign terrorists who have infiltrated Iraq. The Iraqi Border Guard is deployed and the Diplomatic Service Protection Corps is being trained. “It is very important,” says Mr. Senor, “that Iraq’s security is protected by Iraqis”:

“We are pleased to say that today there are more Iraqis in positions securing their own country than there are Americans on the ground securing Iraq. It’s a priority. It affects everything we do. It affects our ability to get to the economic renewal. It affects our ability to work with the Governing Council on returning a sense of normalcy. Security is critical.”

As Ameen Khazaal Khalif, an Iraqi police lieutenant, told a newspaper reporter, “We will not be lazy about doing our duty.”