U.S. Marines in Fallujah have ended another police recruiting drive, attracting some 176 Iraqi men to sign up for the local force.

The drive, led by Marines of Regimental Combat Team 5, added more police to the roughly 1,700 currently serving in and around Fallujah, officials said. Recruiting, training and fielding Iraqi police has repeatedly been cited as the major U.S. goal for 2006. American officials have acknowledged that training has been uneven in many areas.

“In spite of the fact that the police are being targeted, these guys stand forward and join the force,” Col. Larry Nicholson, commander of RCT-5, was quoted as saying in a press release. “That speaks more eloquently than any Iraqi or American commander can. They are voting with their feet.”

While previous recruiting drives have been attacked, during the weekend recruiting, only sporadic small-arms and mortar fire was reported in the area. The new recruits will take an eight-week police training course before hitting the streets.

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