Report raises concern over Iraq’s citizen recruitment
ARLINGTON, Va. — The most recent report on progress in Iraq raises concern about the pace at which “concerned local citizens” are being folded into the Iraqi security forces.
The pace at which those citizens are being integrated into the Iraqi security forces is disturbingly slow, the report said.
The report said a growing number of Iraqis are becoming “concerned local citizens,” which serve as neighborhood watches or are under U.S.-funded contracts to protect infrastructure. Many once belonged to insurgent or other illegal groups.
Of the roughly 69,000 citizens in the groups, about 80 percent are Sunni and 20 percent are Shiite, many of whom have said they would like to join the Iraqi police or army, the report said.
“The CLC program is proving crucial to the counterinsurgency effort, but the slow pace of integrating the CLC members into the GoI [Iraqi government] institutions, lack of alternative employment and fears by the [Nouri al-Maliki] government that these forces may return to violence or form new militias are of concern,” the report said.
The report noted that Iraqi Ministry of the Interior does not have enough facilities to train police officers, and that many Iraqi police officers on duty now have never been trained.
“The Baghdad Police College, the source of all officers, was originally designed to provide leadership for a police force of approximately 60,000 and is woefully inadequate for today’s force of over 250,000,” the report said.
Adding the citizen groups into the training pipeline would exacerbate existing backlogs at the police academy, according to the report.
“Consequently, the Coalition and [Ministry of the Interior] have formed a joint working group to develop training base expansion solutions that include planning for the construction of ten new training centers and the expansion of seven existing training centers, all eventually working with a common curriculum to standardize training,” the report said.
The citizen group program also faces obstacles from national Shiite leaders, who opposed implementing the program in southern Iraq because they feared “empowering organizations that may rival existing power structures,” the report said.
Ultimately, the Iraqi security forces are expected to be much larger than originally planned, according to the report.
By 2010, the number of Iraqi troops and police officers is expected to be between 601,000 and 646,000, compared with the original authorized end-strength of 398,000, the report said. That means the Iraqi army should have between 261,000 and 268,000 troops, and the Ministry of Interior should have between 307,000 and 347,000 personnel.