Attrition: Iraqi Cops Face Bad Numbers


December27, 2006: Some12,000 Iraqi police officers have died since Saddam's government was overthrown. The national police force currently stands at 188,000, an all time high. There were no cops after the 2003 invasion, because the police force was a part of the security force Saddam used to terrorize and control the Iraqi people. The police commanders were largely Sunni Arabs, selected more for their loyalty to Saddam, than for their ability to protect the people. The police force had to be rebuilt from scratch, and slowly because of the need to train new people to handle leadership posts. As a result, while the Iraqi police have suffered four times as many deadas the U.S. forces, they have, on average, had only about half as many people. Thus you were about eight times more likely to get killed as an Iraqi policeman, as you were as an American soldier or marine.

Many Iraqi police are still corrupt and inefficient. A large number of cops have been bribed, coerced or convinced to serve other masters (political, religious, tribal or criminal). Turning the Iraqi police into a world class force will take years, perhaps as long as a decade. And that's only if the government continues support for such an effort. Meanwhile, despite the danger, divided loyalties and other problems, the cops continue to put themselves into harms way. There is no shortage of recruits, although most of these guys, initially anyway, are mainly looking for a paycheck.


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