As the deadline for inner-city operations comes to a close, the focus is turning to the lack of police professionalism as two Mosul officers are under investigation in the shooting death of a US soldier and his interpreter.
Iraq has been and will continue to be a hot-topic for discussion as American troops remain in the cities for a few more weeks trying to cap off the training efforts of both the Iraq Army and local police. Even still, there are huge concerns over insurgency amongst the police force in the most dangerous city in Iraq, Mosul.
Being labeled as the least trained of all security, local police forces are the necessary bridge to the success of maintaining overall security, making them the weakest link. With nearly 5,500 police short in the number of forces it needs, the reality is that problems will arise as the Iraq military continues to have little respect for local and unprepared police forces.
In a news report from an online military publication, a shooting earlier this year on a U.S. Patrol that killed a U.S. soldier and his interpreter as well as wounding five other soldiers explained how the act was believed to be an inside job. Two Mosul policemen are now the focus of the attack on the patrol.
The two policemen - an officer and a sergeant - were arrested last week by U.S. and Iraqi forces and handed over to Iraqi custody. The two policemen are believed to have fled Mosul after the attack, returning only a few weeks ago.
Despite the U.S. Commander of troops in that particular region explaining that the family of the men actually turned them in, the Mosul police commander said in a meeting that they had not yet been before a judge due to doubts over them being the gunmen or even policemen.
The first step in the process of prosecution is appearing before a judge.
Fears of insurgency continue to plague the minds of both the Iraqis and Americans as deadlines for the drawdown plan close in. On June 30, troops will move to the outskirts of cities just in case the local citizens and security call for help. This was announced earlier this month following a meeting of officials. In April, negotiations were underway requesting an extension of the deadline. Those requests were denied. By next year, a maximum of only 50,000 troops are expected to remain in the country in an effort to provide continuing training. All coalition forces are expected to withdraw completely by the end of 2011.
The United States Military has dedicated and focused its training on the Iraq Army and the paramilitary national police but has not given similar efforts to the local police forces due to time constraints, leaving them weak and more vulnerable to corruption. Observation of police forces at checkpoints have identified the men texting on cell phones and avoiding the heated areas by kicking back in the shade, shirking their duties.
As Americans leave, the Iraqi authorities are said to be sending additional forces to Mosul in an effort to bridge the gap that will remain, as they are unable to trust local police.
Even amongst Iraqi troops and citizens, there is hesitation and fear of retaliation with regards to the local police forces. For example, attempts to recruit former military soldiers have ended in disappointment as they know all too well the possibility of deadly retaliation on their entire families as local police are often targeted by insurgents. Iraq soldiers not given permission to speak to the media did reveal in private that police are "no good," and even police themselves, who wore masks to conceal their identities, feel that they are untrained and unequipped, therefore leaving them vulnerable once the Americans withdraw.
Even three years ago, the problems associated with the local police were serious, with raping, torture, and releasing suspected terrorists in exchange for bribes plagued the country and it's cities alike.
As it appears, the local police security forces will continue to be the weakest link is Iraq's independence.