Monday, February 05, 2007

Perspective: Training new checkpoint police from 'straight off the street' proves easier said than done

U.S. soldiers pay a surprise visit to an Iraqi National police checkpoint in the middle of the night. They find half the police on-duty sleeping, and none of them aware of an impending attack.

Intelligence indicates gunmen may be massing for an attack here, Checkpoint 2 in Rasallah, Baghdad Province — one of the most dangerous. It's targeted nightly.

Lt. Col. Anthony Cornett, the U.S. team leader, urges the Iraqi captain to wake up his men and defend the checkpoint.

"I told him, 'let's get the other men up and get them fully prepared for the attack.' These gunmen generally attack at the same time every night. They know that. I know that. So they should be prepared, not waiting to call the Americans to come and help them," Cornett says.

The Iraqis have an armored vehicle and a watch tower. Cornett patiently explains to them how the tower should be fortified and how they should use the vehicle for protection.

"They can fend this off by themselves. They can do this," he says.

The Iraqis listen to Cornett but make no move to wake the others. They are polite, and intrigued by the American visit, but they seem unafraid — even as the Iraqi captain acknowledges the gunmen are there and are trying to chase them off.

Read the rest at CBS News