More than 500 Iraqi men have been accepted to serve as police officers in Anbar province following a recruitment drive this month, according to officials with Multi-National Corps-Iraq.

U.S. Marines screened thousands of applicants on Aug. 11-14 in various locations along the western Euphrates River Valley, including Qaim, Haditha and Baghdadi.

The recruits, who will serve in their own communities, will bring the total number of Iraqi police forces in the province to more than 2,200.

The drive was the most successful so far in that area for U.S. and Iraqi forces, according to Maj. Lowell Rector, office in charge of the police transition team for Regimental Combat Team 7, which is responsible for training security forces in the 30,000-square-mile region.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Rector attributed the success to consistent pay, better equipment and advances in the screening process designed to raise the quality of the average new recruit.

Recruits must attend eight to 10 weeks of training at police academies in either Baghdad or Jordan.

Applicants must pass physical fitness, literacy and medical tests before they can be selected. They also go through background checks and are interviewed by retired U.S. police officers who work closely with Iraqi forces, the press release stated.

Earlier this month, 176 Iraqi men signed up for police forces in communities in and around Fallujah during a similar drive by U.S. Marines.

Iraqis have wanted to get the jobs despite attacks by insurgents on applicants, new recruits, police officers and police stations.

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