September 07, 2007

Not the Least Bit Misleading

According to several news organizations, The Report of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, perhaps better known as the Jones Commission Report, states that Iraq's national police force is so broken that they should be disbanded and began over again from scratch.

So says the U.K's Times Online:

The Iraqi national police force is riddled with militia and corruption and should be disbanded, a panel of retired US military officers has told Congress.

The 20-member panel also said today that the Iraqi Army was incapable of acting independently from US forces for at least another 18 months, and "cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven".


The commission members, who spent three weeks in Iraq this summer and conducted 150 interviews, were most damning about the Iraqi national police. They said that its parent body, the Interior Ministry, was a ministry "in name only" and rife with sectarianism and corruption. The entire 26,000-member police force should be scrapped and rebuilt anew, they said.

Ann Scott Tyson and Glenn Kesler of WaPo echo a similar account:

Senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq rejected an independent commission's recommendation yesterday to disband the 25,000-strong Iraqi national police force, saying that despite sectarian influences the force is improving and that removing it would create dangerous security vacuums in key regions of the country.

Looking at these and other contemporary articles on the subject, a casual reader skimming the headlines would likely come away with the impression that we've got to fire all of Iraq's policemen and start over from scratch.

But what you would probably gather from these accounts is not a full and accurate representation of what the commission says [the report actually says far more, and covers the Iraqi military as well, but we're focusing on this one aspect for the moment]. I know, because I have a copy of the 152-page report in front of me right now.

The Jones Commission does advocate the disbanding of the 25,000-man Iraqi National Police, but what neither article mentioned is that the NP is the smallest element of the various police forces under the Ministry of the Interior.

The Commission states something quite different regarding the much larger and widespread Iraqi Police Service in their conclusion on page 108 of the report:

Conclusion: The Iraqi Police Service is incapable today of providing security at a level sufficient to protect Iraqi neighborhoods from insurgents and sectarian violence. The police are central to the long-term establishment of security in Iraq. Tbe be effective in combatting the threats that officers face, including sectarian violence, the Iraqi Police must be better trained and equipped. The Commission believes that the Iraqi Police Service can improve rapidly should the Ministry of the Interior become a more functional institution.

There are more than 200,000 civilian personnel in the Iraqi security services, and the commission indicates that the biggest problem for the bulk of those police officers in the Iraqi Police Service is that they undertrained and under-equipped. Tehy also state that if they received the training and material support they need, they are expected to improve rapidly.

Funny how the media reports forget to mention that on page 102, the Commission notes that in 2004, the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team requested funding for 6,000 police advisors to train a force of 135,000, and that Congress only approved funds for 1,000 advisors. Today, the Iraqi police have over 230,000 officers, and only 900 international police advisors and roughly 3,500 military personnel filling these necessary advisory roles.

Harry Reid and the Democrats keep shrieking that it is time for a "change of course" in Iraq.

Perhaps they could start by providing the police with the funding for the advisors they need, which by the way, is another Commission recommendation that you won't hear too many Democrats repeating.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 7, 2007 11:30 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/07/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Posted by: David M at September 7, 2007 01:36 PM

Following the time-honored Democrat playbook--stop the funding while demanding progress and bemoaning setbacks. It worked so well in Vietnam at the end....

Posted by: iconoclast at September 7, 2007 10:47 PM

The INP has been a problematic step-child since the forces started to shake themselves out in 2005-06. In theory Iraq needs a police system to combat organized crime and its inroads in Iraq, but the folks doing that now are the IA and MNF-I because the criminal element is as well armed as the terrorist/insurgent side and freely associates with them. Having to roll-up the Kazali criminal networks that also supplied insurgents/terrorists required that Special Forces (US and Iraqi) go after them as a vital part of the insurgency.

What Iraq desperately needs is police-level equivalent of an 'Internal Affairs' and anti-corruption unit to look after all police. That is a large part of the jigsaw puzzle still missing and getting individuals who are competent and technocratic in outlook to uphold the law *before* other affiliations is a hard one. With so little civilian organized crime and other National outlooks that are *not* well armed enough to require military intervention, Iraq is having a hard time coming up with necessity of it. Real election laws will require actually adhering to them, but the Parliament, like all legislative bodies, doesn't want to have someone coming after them when they start changing their outlook on the law itself.

The US is not immune to this problem, as witness the lack of *any* high level sting operations against Congress in the 'Abscam' mode. Holding the power of the purse and legislative power as a threat to FBI budgets, means that those sorts of operations just don't happen. Our Congress continually writes itself out of laws, like health and workplace safety and labor laws, to allow them to do things, personally, that even the rest of the government can't do.

If the US is fumbling that aspect of things, why should Iraqis be any better at it? With the IA doing a good job getting folks processed to the Central Criminal Court system, with actual convictions based on evidence and folks let free when it is not sufficient to warrant prosecution or finding a guilty verdict, that part is working well. National Police must be able to handle wider-scope than just intra-Nation so as to identify extra-National actors working in their country. The military can help to understand that, but police have the actual knowledge of the law and international law availble to them so as to better define activities and possible threats.

A re-start may be necessary for this. Looking at the Iraqi Special Forces, however, might lead to an alternative method by utilizing the command and control doctrine for it, but adding in the fully legal aspect to a new unit or set of units. The ISF is proving highly capable, non-aligned and dedicated to their jobs and for any wounded to go beyond ability to carry on the fight, the option of learning the law and enforcing it and commanding new units would leverage those skills and attitudes in a National Police while not creating a separate military police. Co-train with the IA to start with and start implementing different standards for personality and mental outlook and throw the entire INP through it as it exists today. That is a possibility, amongst many... and would be a hell of a workload to learn both tactical and legal operations at the same time. For Iraq is in a nasty neighborhood, geographically, and the police will have to be as tough as the military and even more sharply adhere to civilian law.

Not impossible. Just not quick nor easy.

Posted by: ajacksonian at September 8, 2007 09:52 AM

Caught a bit of "Meet the Press" this morning, with a couple of the guys heading up this report. I was impressed because the _first_ thing they said when the host brought this up was to make clear the distinction between the National Police (25,000) and the Police Service (200,000).

Posted by: Dave at September 9, 2007 11:21 AM