U.S. civil affairs troops helping Iraqi city build police force
April 11, 2003
ARLINGTON, Va. — The city council of the Iraqi port city Umm Qasr has begun working with U.S. Army civil affairs troops to pull together a police force.
The council has been tasked with identifying roughly 40 residents who will make up the new city police force needed to quell civil unrest, said Army Brig. Gen. Jack Kern, commander of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command now operating in Umm Qasr.
Liberated Iraqis, euphoric over the end of the leadership of Saddam Hussein, have taken to looting in the fallen cities of Baghdad and Basra.
Umm Qasr’s former police force has been nonexistent since U.S. and British coalition forces took control, “and we need a police force to keep order,” Kern said Thursday during a satellite-teleconference between Umm Qasr and the Pentagon.
Civil Affairs divisions also are establishing fire departments and companies, he said.
Kern has placed 69 Iraqi exiles within U.S. Army and Marine Corps civil affairs units. The Iraqis are part of the Free Iraqi Forces, soldiers trained by U.S. troops in Taszar, Hungary, for civil affairs operations.
While Kern said he could always use more, the FIF soldiers he has “are adequate” and have been assigned in “onesies and twosies” with U.S. forces throughout the country.
He started off with 74 trained exiles, but lost a few because of medical reasons and one because a background security check revealed the soldier had ties to the toppled regime, Kern said.
Most of the FIF soldiers are assigned to U.S. units operating in those soldiers’ hometowns, a move to facilitate building a quicker rapport with the local population, Kern said.
“You get automatic trust when we’ve got one of the local boys with us,” Kern explained.