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Iraqi Police, Military Police work for security in Iskandariyah
By Sgt. Daniel D. Blottenberger, 18th MP Brigade PAO
Dec 6, 2007 - 3:53:51 PM
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Sgt. Arianna Vargas, a military policeman, with the 127th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, observes an Iskandariyah Police Officer interacting with local Iraqis at the Iskandariyah District Police Headquarters. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel D. Blottenberger, 18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs)
ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq - For members of the 127th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, mission success in Iskandariyah can be measured in the success of the local Haswah Market.

"Markets are the best way to measure success in Iskandariyah," said 1st Lt. Nathan Diaz, a native of Tampa Bay, Fla., and platoon leader for 3rd platoon 'Wolfpack' 127th MP Co.

"Sunni's feel safe enough to come back to the markets to shop and sell their products. Insurgents drove out Sunnis in the Iskandariyah area and now Sunnis are coming back. Six months ago you would not see this," said Diaz.

During the summer, the 127th was battling insurgents in the area on a daily basis as the 127th and a local Infantry company held a battalion size battle space for more than eight months.

"It was like playing 'wack-a-mole,'" said Diaz. "Insurgency would flame up in one area and we would go put it out. Then it would flame up somewhere else and we would go put it out."

This process continued until the troop surge brought more Coalition Forces into the area.

"The surge was 'crack down time.' We rounded up all sorts of bad guys. The Iraqi Police were very confident to do their jobs because they had all the Coalition Forces backing them up," said Diaz.

"Insurgents are not safe in this area," said Capt. Madhlum Abd Al Rahman Khodor, the Haswah Police Chief.

Iraqis who fled Haswah are allowed to come back and reclaim their homes from people who illegally occupied them when they fled. They do this with the help of the Iskandariyah local police departments.

The Iraqi Police are evicting people who took the homes of the Sunnis who fled in fear of the violence, said Diaz.

"The IPs here are a lot better than they used to be, they operate independently now," said Diaz who has worked alongside the Iskandariyah Police for more than 13 months.

The last few Police Academy classes have been heavy on Sunni graduates to even out the Sunni and Shia numbers on the Iskandariyah police force.

The Sunnis wear masks while on patrol to hide their identity for safety reasons.

"These masked IPs just started showing up in Iskandariyah. These IPs are legendary in the area. The locals call them 'masked people,'" said Diaz.

The reason these police officers are so effective is because of good leadership in Iskandariyah.

"The (IP) commander is working very hard, so his IPs are working very hard. IPs reflect their leadership," said Diaz.

"These are the best IPs I have ever had," said Khodor, talking of the police officers he leads on patrol in Haswah on a daily basis.

The 127th's mission since arriving in Iskandariyah has been to train and support the police force of the area so that they will be able to operate on their own once Coalition Forces withdraw.

"We are here to make the IPs as independent as possible. One day we will be gone and they need to get by and succeed," said Diaz.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

 
Sgt. Eric Wilkerson, a military policeman, with the 127th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade greets a local Iraqi child at the Haswah Police station. The 127th, partnered with local Iraqi Police in Haswah, have brought business back to the Haswah market which was closed two months ago because of violence in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel D. Blottenberger, 18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs)
Sgt. Michael Ullerich, a military policeman, with the 127th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade hands out toys to kids at the Haswah market in Iskandariyah with the help of a masked Iraqi Police officer. The masked Iraqi Police have become legendary in the Iskandariyah District for driving out insurgents in the district. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel D. Blottenberger, 18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs)


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