FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq — Members of a seasoned U.S. military police company that’s monitored the treacherous streets of Northwest Baghdad say they’ve seen dramatic improvements in the Iraqi police force.

“The Iraqi police are more confident and competent at what they do,” said Sgt. James Becker, 27, of Radcliff, Ky., a squad leader in the 127th Military Police Company. “They’re actually out there looking for [terrorists], as opposed to when we first got here and they were a little clueless. Now, they’re much more proactive.”

For the past year, the 127th MPs has spent much of its time working with 19 Iraqi police, patrol and traffic stations, said Capt. Kevin Hanrahan, 30, of Whitman, Mass., the 127th MP commander.

The military police routinely meet with Iraqi police chiefs, collect statistical data on training programs, deal with contractors and construction projects, and monitor the hunt for terror suspects.

Sgt. Ian Parker, 22, of Detroit, a company team leader, said he’s noticed a difference in the attitude of Iraqi forces over the past year.

“When we first got here, they were willing but not really equipped. They didn’t have the weapons and training they really needed,” he said. “We’d tell them to look into a building and check for insurgents, and they’d be scared. Now, they’re a little more secure in their abilities to do the job.”

The Iraqis also can effectively set up random checkpoints on their own, “without us having to tell them,” Parker added.

After arriving last April, the 127th MPs acted primarily in an observation role while providing security for Iraqi stations, Becker said. Two months into the deployment, they began teaching, training and coaching the Iraqi police on patrols.

“I’ve seen it come from nothing and start to rebuild itself,” Parker said.

“We saw the first free election Iraq has ever had. One of our translators said he almost cried when he voted; said he wanted to weep. That made me proud to be an American.”

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