Forces: Risky Recruiting in Iraq


November 4, 2005: Although training still lags, recruiting for both the Iraqi army and police has been proceeding well. But especially among the police forces, the quality of manpower varies, especially from province to province. In a number of regions, recruiting of police has tended to be aimed at cementing the loyalties of local militias or tribal warriors to the transitional government, rather than to establish a reliable police force. As a result, many substandard recruits have been accepted. Some men are unfit for service due to age or physical condition. Others lack much education or may be mentally handicapped. Then too, some are "morally unfit," having criminal records or being tainted by association with the Saddamite regime. And some secured their positions through bribery, since the leadership of the police is often corrupt.

Efforts to rid the police of unfit personnel are tricky, since the sensitivities of local clans and tribes have to be taken into account. But some progress has been made. In one province about a thousand police officers have been discharged. Their replacements have been drawn from better-screened personnel from the same region, often the same tribes and clans, in an effort to keep the peace.


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