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Staff Sgt. Kevin Palmer (pointing), Police Transition Team chief and part of the 240th Military Police Company, briefs 82nd Airborne Division officials about a joint security station in East Baghdad.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Palmer (pointing), Police Transition Team chief and part of the 240th Military Police Company, briefs 82nd Airborne Division officials about a joint security station in East Baghdad. (Lisa Burgess / S&S)

Staff Sgt. Kevin Palmer (pointing), Police Transition Team chief and part of the 240th Military Police Company, briefs 82nd Airborne Division officials about a joint security station in East Baghdad.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Palmer (pointing), Police Transition Team chief and part of the 240th Military Police Company, briefs 82nd Airborne Division officials about a joint security station in East Baghdad. (Lisa Burgess / S&S)

1st Lt. Monique Barnhart (center) briefs other military officials on a Joint Security Station in East Baghdad. From left are: Lt. Col. Carl Alex, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment; Maj. Gary Morris, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division's officer in charge of force protection; Staff Sgt. Kevin Palmer, Police Transition Team chief from the 240th Military Police Company; and Maj. Mike Pratt, the 1-504th operations officer.

1st Lt. Monique Barnhart (center) briefs other military officials on a Joint Security Station in East Baghdad. From left are: Lt. Col. Carl Alex, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment; Maj. Gary Morris, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division's officer in charge of force protection; Staff Sgt. Kevin Palmer, Police Transition Team chief from the 240th Military Police Company; and Maj. Mike Pratt, the 1-504th operations officer. (Lisa Burgess / S&S)

Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes, in charge of Force Development for the Army Chief of Staff, talks to Pentagon reporters Wednesday about the Army's project to armor all of its wheeled vehicles in Iraq by June.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes, in charge of Force Development for the Army Chief of Staff, talks to Pentagon reporters Wednesday about the Army's project to armor all of its wheeled vehicles in Iraq by June. (Lisa Burgess / S&S)

BAGHDAD — The muddy, trash-strewn East Baghdad compound the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment will soon call its second home may not seem “dreamy” to many people.

But to Maj. Gary Morris, the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team officer in charge of force protection, the soon-to-be Joint Security Station, or JSS, is close to perfect — exactly what he wants for the Iraqi and American troops who will soon work in the space.

Finding JSS sites in East Baghdad is one of Morris’ jobs, and perhaps the most important: The stations are key to the new Baghdad security plan, aimed at quelling the ongoing violence by boosting Iraqi and U.S. troop presence on the streets.

The security plan also brings together three groups that previously have not cooperated much: the Iraqi army, which is controlled by the Sunni-dominated Ministry of Defense; the National Police, a paramilitary organization governed by the Shiite-dominated Ministry of the Interior; and the Iraqi police, the localized civilian public safety force.

According to the security plan, Baghdad has been sectioned into nine “security framework districts,” with a JSS acting as a headquarters for each. Each district will include all three elements of Iraqi forces, and also be supported by a U.S. maneuver battalion, such as the 1-504th.

On Friday, Morris took Lt. Col. Carl Alex, the unit commander, and some of Alex’s staff on a tour of the JSS the battalion will soon support. Like all the JSS sites, the facility is an existing Iraqi police station.

“We’re trying to re-establish the idea in the Iraqi people’s minds that the Iraqi police are their local police,” said Morris, 46, and a veteran of Desert Storm who hails from Duluth, Ga.

The rash of kidnappings and murders in Baghdad by individuals wearing Iraqi police uniforms — which are readily available in local marketplaces — has badly shaken local trust in the police.

According to the plan, the combined muscle throughout Baghdad of the three Iraqi forces, plus U.S. backup, should stabilize the city, Morris said.

“Then the long-term goal is that once the security builds and the insurgents have been kept out long enough, the Iraqi army and National Police can be pulled back to the periphery of Baghdad, and do what they’re supposed to do, which is defend the country,” Morris said.

Requirements for JSS sites, Morris said, include sufficient security; at least one large office- like space; billeting space; parking room not only for regular vehicles, but tanks and other armored transport; water and heat; and plumbing that is in good enough shape so that it only requires repairs and refurbishing, not major rebuilding or replacement.

Given all the requirements, the JSS that the 1-504th will share with its Iraqi counterparts “is a dream,” Morris said.

“It’s one of the largest I’ve ever seen,” Morris said, and meets every one of the strict criteria set for the stations.

Talking to the Iraqi police as he makes his rounds searching for the ideal JSS sites, Morris said, “they’re excited about this plan. They’re excited about the thought of being cops again someday.”


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