ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT — Senior U.S. defense and military officials say that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is asking the coalition for more police training, particularly for Sunnis who will have to secure Ramadi and other towns once Islamic State militants are ousted.
Abadi specifically asked for more trainers during talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter this week at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the officials said.
Aided by coalition airstrikes, Iraqi security forces retook Ramadi last month. Iraq's trained local police then moved in to help secure the town. The local police were able to take over more quickly than initially anticipated, allowing more skilled Iraqi security and counterterrorism forces to move on to other operations, the U.S. officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss publicly the private conversation.
Carter has asked coalition members to beef up their contributions to the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. And one of the several key priorities is trainers. The issue is particularly critical as security forces retake towns in the largely Sunni areas that are held by IS.
Leaders want to put Sunni local police into the town in order to keep the peace and prevent IS from returning.
Currently the Italian national police are conducting monthlong training sessions for the local police. They mainly receive instruction in basic soldier skills, including marksmanship, patrolling and how to locate and counter hidden explosive devices.
A senior military official said countries such as Spain and Germany also are good at police training.
Officials said that the victory in Ramadi has given Abadi more latitude to seek additional military aid, despite persistent political sensitivities to increasing the coalition's presence in Iraq.
Carter met with a small group of key coalition countries in Paris earlier in the week and is convening a larger meeting of 26 countries next month. Officials are hoping to get some ideas about what countries may be willing to provide at that time.