US could drop program to train Iraqi police
It was supposed to be the centerpiece of our effort to maintain a presence in Iraq. Instead, it is likely to become another example of our incompetence in dealing with the Iraqi government.
They don't want us. The program isn't working, It has cost a billion dollars and has been scaled back to nothing. To top it off, this from the New York Times story appears to be indicative of our efforts:
A lesson given by an American police instructor to a class of Iraqi trainees neatly encapsulated the program's failings. There are two clues that could indicate someone is planning a suicide attack, the instructor said: a large bank withdrawal and heavy drinking.
The problem with that advice, which was recounted by Ginger Cruz, the former deputy inspector general at the American Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, was that few Iraqis have bank accounts and an extremist Sunni Muslim bent on carrying out a suicide attack is likely to consider drinking a cardinal sin.
The rest is maddening:
Last month many of the Iraqi police officials who had been participating in the training suddenly refused to attend the seminars and PowerPoint presentations given by the Americans, saying they saw little benefit from the sessions.
The Iraqis have also insisted that the training sessions be held at their own facilities, rather than American ones. But reflecting the mistrust that remains between Iraqi and American officials, the State Department's security guards will not allow the trainers to establish set meeting times at Iraqi facilities, so as not to set a pattern for insurgents, who still sometimes infiltrate Iraq's military and police.
The largest of the construction projects, an upgrade at the Baghdad Police College that included installing protective covering over double-wide residence trailers (to shield against mortar attacks) and new dining and laundry facilities and seminar rooms, was recently abandoned, unfinished, after an expenditure of more than $100 million. The remaining police advisers will instead work out of the American Embassy compound, where they will have limited ability to interact with Iraqi police officials.
Robert M. Perito, director of the Security Sector Governance Center of Innovation at the United States Institute of Peace, called the project a "small program for a lot of money."
We spent nearly $400 million around the country to upgrade facilities like the one in Baghdad that now won't be used.
As a metaphor for our decade long effort in Iraq, the police training program is apt: Good intentions, poor execution, and eventually, embarrassing failure.