BAGHDAD, Iraq, - Iraqi law enforcement personnel proved that they will be ready to provide security for the upcoming elections as they tested their skills though training scenarios simulating situations they are likely to face on Election Day.
The 217th Military Police Company, 49th Military Police Brigade of the Alabama National Guard, runs a training academy that provides Iraqi law enforcement and emergency response agencies the opportunity to come together for one day to focus specifically on providing security during election time.
As with much military training, the day started out in the classroom with instruction designed to give the students basic knowledge on how to conduct election security. The action started after lunch as the students received hands-on training in a practical exercise.
The academy set up a mock election site specifically for this training. The students tested on setting up and maintaining security. Role-players came through to cast their vote; some were hostile role and others played friendly voters.
"We've set up ways to search people as they come into the election site. They check their identification, check them for any contraband, and then they are allowed to go into the next secure area before casting their vote," said Capt. David Worthy, commander of the 217th. "The mission is to safely get people in and out of the voting building."
The Criminal Justice Center holds two training courses, a one-week and a three-week course. The one week class is a "train-the-trainer" based curriculum. The intent is to teach police officers proper techniques for conducting classes, so they can go back to their respective stations and instruct their fellow officers. The three week class teaches advanced police techniques that they can take to the field. On this day both classes came together to for training.
Worthy explained that the election security aspect of the training is nothing new to the academy. "It's something that has been in every core and every curriculum that we have. It is now receiving more attention with the upcoming elections," he said.
The long term goal is not just to train the Iraqi law enforcement but to turn over the facility and academy to them. "We are well on track to be able to turn this over to them," Worthy said. "We already have an Iraqi commandant and 12 Iraqi former students are working as instructors today."
Providing security for the upcoming elections plays a big part in proving that Iraqi forces are ready to take full control of their country. "Election is the most important time in Iraq. U.S. forces trained us in a lot of areas, from crime scene preservation to securing an election station. These are basic things that our forces need; altogether it is a big weapon that our forces can use," said Lt. Col Moshtiq Tileb Abed, Baghdad director of police.
Abed looks forward the near future when Iraqi law enforcement will completely take over the security of the country. He appreciates everything the U.S. has done for them. "U.S. Forces helped us train to point where our forces are ready now. We are completely ready," he said. "I want to thank U.S. forces and the American Soldiers for providing security in Iraq, hopefully this will be a payback for them."