More than 500 Iraqis join police in restive Anbar province

More than 500 Iraqis join police in restive Anbar province
August 22nd, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: More than 500 Iraqis join police in restive Anbar province

More than 500 Iraqis join police in restive Anbar province
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 22 August 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_More than 500 Iraqi men have joined the police in the restive
Anbar province in the most successful recruiting drive by U.S. and Iraqi
forces in an area seething with Arab insurgency, the U.S. military said

U.S. Marines screened thousands of applicants Aug. 11-14 in various regions
along the western Euphrates River valley before shortlisting the recruits,
said a statement by the U.S. command.

Most American deaths this month have been in Anbar province, a vast area
west of Baghdad where support for the Sunni Arab insurgency runs deep.

The latest casualties in Anbar were two Marines and a sailor who were killed
in combat Sunday. All three belonged to the Regimental Combat Team 7, which
conducted the three-day police recruitment.

It "was the most successful recruiting/screening drive for U.S. and Iraqi
forces in this region to date," Maj. Lowell Rector, who is in charge of the
police transition team for Regimental Combat Team 7, was quoted as saying in
the statement

RCT-7 is the U.S. military unit responsible for providing security and
training Iraqi security forces in Anbar, an area of more than 30,000
square-miles, (77,700 sq. kilometers) stretching from the Jordanian and
Syrian borders to Hit, a city 85 miles (140 kilometers) west of Baghdad.

The situation in Anbar, with its heavily Sunni population, is a barometer
for the entire Sunni Arab minority, which lost its favored position to the
majority Shiites and the Kurds when Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed in

Many local Sunni leaders in Anbar province remain convinced that they can
regain power in Baghdad through the armed insurgency.

The majority of Iraqi security force personnel are Shiite or Kurdish _ while
young Sunni Arabs make up most of the insurgency. The Americans would like
to redress the imbalance and bring more Sunnis into the ranks.

But efforts to recruit more Anbar Sunnis into the army have faltered, either
because of intimidation by insurgents or genuine support for their cause.

The recruitment of more than 500 police cadets is a significant achievement
in the American goal, but desertion rate remains high among the Iraqi army
and police force, often because the foot soldiers don't get paid in time or
get fatigued with the fighting.

If all 500 new applicants stay with the force after the 8-10 weeks training,
Anbar will have more than 2,200 police officers in uniform, the statement

Rector attributed the success of the recruiting drive to consistent pay, new
and better police equipment, and a rigorous screening process to ensure only
high-caliber candidates are accepted.

"They're getting paid, they realize the benefits (and) the environment's
becoming more secure," said Rector. "They want to serve."

The Sunni insurgency and the Shiite-Sunni sectarian conflict wracking
Baghdad and surrounding areas are the main challenges for the unity
government that some say will lead the country to civil war.

The violence claimed about 3,500 lives in July, the highest monthly death
toll since the U.S. led invasion in March 2003. More than 2,600 members of
the U.S. military have also died in Iraq since the invasion.

President George W. Bush on Monday acknowledged that the Iraq war is
"straining the psyche of our country," but warned that leaving now would be
a disaster.

Many Democrats want to leave Iraq "before the job is done," Bush said. "If
we ever give up the desire to help people who live in freedom, we will have
lost our soul as a nation, as far as I'm concerned," he said.

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