I’m at camp Shield, in Baghdad next to Sadr City, embedded with the 39th MP Louisiana National Guard. Many of the Guard here were members of Task Force Gator, including CPL Djernette, SGT. Cromwell, SGT. Lytel, SGT.Morel and CPL. Garner. I got to know then while riding along with them last year in New Orleans. Working with them is great. They are at ease with our cameras and let us do or thing.This unit, like the 2228 serves as PTTs (police transition team) for the IPs (Iraqi Police). They help secure checkpoints and police stations, monitor paperwork, and escort IPAs (international police advisers). Many of the Guard have a background in law enforcement and all were trained to teach the IP’s before deploying, however IPAs give the lessons. The IPAs work for Dynacorp, a company based in TX and Dubai. They are paid more than the guard with salaries upwards of $130K. Many of them have more expertise then Guard. Though many of the guard are qualified to give the classes IPA have been hired for the job. One Guard pointed out, if they had to teach, there would be less people to secure the police station while the IPA teach. The lessons usually last about ½ an hour. The lessons are geared to the attention span of the IPs. Most lessons are in the morning. Not much gets done after lunch. There is a warm exchange between the IPs and the MP’s. Countless rounds of chai (Iraqi tea) are served. The MP’s are updated on what the IP’s do, but do not accompany them on calls to monitor them in action which limits there ability to advise, but leaves crime fighting to the IPs. Their main role is to mentor and advise. Both of which are needed, as the IPs crime fighting techniques are very primitive.
I have visited four different stations and sat in on a few of the training classes. At the special investigations station, we stumbled upon some real bad guys who were handcuffed at the top of the stairs. They had videotaped brutal murders they committed and were more then likely members of JAM. Sgt. Cromwell and Sgt. Duncan watched the tape and were visibly shaken by it.
At another station I visited the jail located past a urine soaked hallway. Four prisoners were taken out of their cells briefly to have biometric images taken. The MP unit stationed here before the 39th, gave up on such pictures as they had many false positive matches. The room the prisoners are kept in had over one hundred people in it. There is not enough room for all of them to sleep at once. The MPs take notes on stuff like that and advise the IPs on improving conditions.
Untill after the holiday all classes are at a stand still. The last few days there have been suicide bombings against the Shia Pilgrims who are marching to Karbala. The Guard are now stationed at checkpoints beefing up a military presence around Baghdad to help quell the violence.