NEWS

Iraqi Police Failing Counterterrorism Mission Due to Corruption, Sectarianism

By Matthew Harwood

The Iraqi National Police is so corrupt and sectarian that an elite Italian police agency has been tasked with retraining it, reports Voice of America.

The Carabiniere is one of Italy's three national police forces and serves as a tactical middleman between local police and the military. According to Colonel Fabrizio Parrulli, who heads the Carabiniere retraining effort in Iraq, the INP will now be organized along Carabiniere guidelines.

A portion of the Iraqi National Police will be trained directly by their Italian counterparts, and the Iraqis are then supposed to share their lessons with colleagues.

A select group will get extra training focused on antiterrorism and some other advanced issues.

Col. Parrulli says Carabiniere-type units are helpful in Iraq because they are a police agency organized along military lines, with more training and firepower than regular police.

While most police work alone or in small groups, Carabiniere units can also operate in large groups using military methods and tactics.

Parrulli says INP trainees will also be instructed in forensics, investigations, and acting as coordinated units.

The news that the Iraqi National Police was in dire straits was delivered this September in a report written by the Jones Commission, led by retired General James L. Jones, Jr., which investigated Iraq's security forces. (To read General Jones' testimony before Congress, click here.)  It's assessment of the INP called into question whether it should even exist.

The National Police have proven ineffective, and sectarianism in these units may fundamentally undermine their ability to provide security. The force is not viable in its current form.

Commission member Charles Ramsey—the former Washington, D.C., police chief—was even more critical in his testimony before Congress, according to VOA.

"It was unbelievable, the amount of negative comments we got, whether we were speaking with Iraqi Army, Iraqi police service, it didn't seem to matter, community members, there was almost a universal feeling that the National Police were highly sectarian, were corrupt, had been accused of having death squads and the like."

However, Ramsey is against disbanding the unit, and told Congress its mission needed to be redefined. The Carabiniere led retraining seems to be a step in this direction.

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