Sunday, April 29, 2007

Perspective: Iraqi national police train for future but struggle in violent present

Graduating cadets at the National Police Training Academy demonstrate martial arts and hand-to-hand fighting techniques at the graduation ceremony March 29.

NUMANIYAH, Iraq (AP) - A smoke grenade is tossed and Iraq's most elite paramilitary commandos storm an apartment building. The raid goes off without a hitch.

The problem is that it's just an exercise - part of the U.S. military's four-week drills for the Iraqi National Police. In reality, Iraqi commanders say it could be years before the force is competent enough to control Baghdad on its own.

Or like "trying to build an airplane while you're flying it," said Col. Chip Lewis, the chief U.S. training officer for the National Police.

The slow pace of police training highlights just one of the conundrums taking shape amid calls for an American troop withdrawal timetable: How to begin an exit strategy without leaving behind a crippled state that's easy prey for al-Qaida or homegrown militias?

Read the rest at AOL News