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NEWS | April 29, 2010

Tennessee MPs prepare to train Iraqi police

By Ryan Morton Fort Dix Public Affairs Office

FORT DIX, N.J., - Tennessee Army National Guard Soldiers from the 253rd Military Police Company are currently here at Army Support Activity-Dix preparing for a mission in Iraq, where they will train, mentor, and assist the Iraqi police force.

As U.S. forces scale down the numbers of combat military personnel throughout Iraq, the mission of assisting the IPs, who are now the leaders in securing the nation, remains paramount toward continuing the establishment of the country's independence and ability to govern itself.

The unit from Lenoir City, Tenn., will spend its tour working toward getting the IP force ready to assume full control. The U.S. is scheduled to pull all combat troops out by the end of August of this year and pull all troops out of the country by the end of 2011.

Capt. Dallas Clements, the 253rd's commander, talked about how the role of the U.S. working with the IPs has changed from where it was a few years ago.

"The main difference is [the U.S.] are not the lead in the security," he said. "Now the leader is the Iraqi Police. We'll now back them up and let them take the lead. Ultimately they are the gatekeepers to Iraq's future stability."

The Soldiers, said Clements, will work with the IPs at various stations and security checkpoints in and around the area southeast of Baghdad.

The 170-Soldier unit has many servicemembers with prior combat experience as well as other prior Air Force and Marine Corps personnel. It also has a good mix of veterans and younger Soldiers in its ranks. The organization's force adds to the quality and effectiveness of the unit, Clements said.

"The people who have been there before have a better understanding of what is coming up and they can help impart the wisdom on Soldiers who have never been there before," said Clements, who deployed to Iraq in 2003 as a communications officer.

The Soldiers, in preparation for their tasking, have conducted training at ASA-Dix including first aid, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle driving certification, and mission scenarios.

The 253rd arrived here in March and is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in May.