The Iraqi Police and Continuing Operations
In the immediate wake of the double suicide attack on the police recruiting station in Ramadi, which claimed over eighty lives and injured over seventy, the Sunni police candidates lined back up to volunteer while the carnage was still fresh. The police continue to be a main target of al-Qaeda’s intimidation campaign, as a concerted effort is being made to stand up the national and local police forces in 2006, just as training the Iraq Army was the main effort in 2005.
On Thursday, one week after the horrific attack in Ramadi, another police recruitment drive was conducted. Captain Jeffrey Pool, the Public Affairs Officer for the 2nd Marine Division, which is headquartered in Ramadi, reports “the recruits returned en masse today.” Four Hundred Iraqi Police candidates transitioned to the Baghdad police academy, and “Half of the men were recruited from the Al Qa’im region in western Al Anbar and the other half from the provincial capital, Ar Ramadi.”
The Los Angles Times reports on the the recruiting in Ramadi and motivations Ali, a volunteer who made the cut during today’s police recruitment; “A few months ago, Ali saw masked gunmen shoot his cousin — a former police officer — four times in the head.” Ali refuses to be intimidated by the terror tactics of al-Qaeda and the insurgency; “We’ve been scared for a long time. We’ve had enough… I want to try to secure my city.”
While the police recruitment drive continues in Ramadi and the western run of the Euphrates River Valley remains relatively quiet, the bulk of the day-to-day fighting and operations has now moved to Baghdad and the regions north of the city. The bulk of the casualties, Coalition, Iraqi Security Forces and the insurgency are now coming from this region. Multinational Forces - Iraq press releases show the trend.
In During one raid in Baghdad, a large weapons cache is discovered, six insurgents are killed and one is detained. At least two are likely to be al-Qaeda terrorists, as they were wearing explosive laden suicide vests, a tactic used by the jihadis. Another raid resulted in a firefight where one suspect was detained and another cache was uncovered.
A U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter was shot down in Mosul. Near Balad, just north of Baghdad, a failed roadside bomb attack resulted in the capture of four insurgents. A variety of incidents around Samarra, Balad and Mosul resulted in the capture of two insurgents and the death of two others. Iraqi Army and Coalition forces uncover five caches near Muqdadiyah, Kirkuk, Balad, Tal Afar and Mosul , and another insurgent dies when the roadside bomb he was planting explodes prematurely.
Iraqi Army and police units are intimately involved in the fighting in Baghdad and the north. And as more Sunnis join the police forces in these regions and along the Euphrates River Valley, the fight will only get tougher for al-Qaeda and the insurgent holdouts. Just as the Iraqi Army has yet to meet its full potential, so to are the Iraqi police forces still working to fully form up. Yet they are beginning to make their presence felt. For this reason, they will be the target of al-Qaeda’s wrath.