Iraqi Police Training Botched?
Lee Hamilton and Ed Meese have told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the training of Iraq’s police and judges has been mishandled.
The U.S. erred by first assigning the task of shaping the judicial system in a largely lawless country to the State Department and private contractors who “did not have the expertise or the manpower to get the job done,” Hamilton and Meese said in testimony obtained by The Associated Press. In 2004, the mission was assigned to the Defense Department, which devoted more money to the task. But department officials also were insufficiently trained for the job, Hamilton and Meese said.
As a result, Iraq has little if any on-the-street law enforcement personnel or a functioning judicial system free of corruption, they said. Justice Department officials, they said, should lead the work of transforming the system. Police executives and supervisors should replace the military police personnel now assigned. And the FBI should expand its investigative and forensic training in Iraq, Hamilton and Meese told the panel.
The recommendations about the Iraqi judicial system were included in the Iraq Study Group’s report last year, but got little attention. Hamilton and Meese said Wednesday that unless the U.S. helps create a capable, trained professional police force and functioning criminal justice system, “ordinary Iraqis will not live in peace and will not have confidence in their new government.”
It’s unclear to me why military police, who are at least as well trained as their civilian counterparts, would not be up to the task of teaching police tactics. Further, as a logistical matter, there are almost certainly not enough FBI trainers available to go around and it’s unlikely enough civilian police would have any desire to deploy to Baghdad for this mission to matter.
I would argue, too, that the situation faced by Iraqi security forces far more closely resembles a military policing task than ordinary peacetime law enforcement. Indeed, I can’t imagine LAPD or NYPD would be all that effective in Baghdad under present circumstances.