Preserving Progress in Iraq, Part III: Iraq's Police Development Program
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member Ackerman, and distinguished Members, thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the Department of State’s Police Development Program in Iraq.
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), in which I serve as a Deputy Assistant Secretary, was charged with taking over from the U.S. military the responsibility for police development activities in Iraq as of October 1, 2011. Our program – known as the Police Development Program or P-D-P – builds on the significant investment and progress the U.S. military has made with the Government of Iraq over the last seven years. The military’s program utilized hundreds of police advisors, and focused largely on generating a police force from the ground up and training it for counterinsurgency operations. The Police Development Program builds on this foundation and draws on the experience and expertise the INL Bureau has developed in international police assistance over the last two decades.
Our much smaller cadre of senior police advisors and mentors, who work directly for the U.S. Government, are paired with senior Iraqi Interior Ministry and police officials to further develop Iraq’s law enforcement leadership and management capacities. The program also imparts specific advanced technical skills, such as management of crime scenes, forensics capabilities, and explosive ordinance disposal, which will be necessary for the sustainability and continued growth and professionalism of the Iraqi police services.
The PDP is designed to help Iraq build a modern, professional civilian police force that will assume internal policing functions from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The PDP mentors Iraqi police leadership on how to regularize their engagement with the people they serve while protecting Iraq’s communities, its borders, and respect for human rights. Additionally, sustainable training programs will be developed with the Iraqis that are flexible enough to adapt to changing requirements. The PDP plays a critical role in developing a secure, stable and self-reliant Iraq, as it builds upon the U.S. military’s hard-won gains. The Iraqi Government has requested, and welcomes, this assistance.
The Department of State launched the Police Development Program on October 1, 2011 and currently has deployed 105 U.S. advisors leading PDP’s mentoring and advising mission in Iraq, including 71 United States Government direct-hire Senior Police Advisors, 12 Department of Homeland Security advisors, and 22 hold-over Civilian Police Advisors who participated in the Department of Defense police program and are providing needed continuity in this transition period. Our advisors constitute the most senior and experienced police advisor team ever deployed by the United States Government. The Senior Police Advisors alone have an average 23 years of police service, eight years in senior police positions, and three years of international police development experience. Each Senior Police Advisor applied directly to the U.S. Government for this mission, willing to serve in the challenging security environment beside their Iraqi counterparts. And each Advisor was selected for his or her relevant and recent law enforcement experience and knowledge. Their unique skill sets and seniority allow them to create true peer-to-peer relationships with Iraqi Interior Ministry and police leaders, to assess their counterparts’ strengths and challenges, and to suggest solutions to further advance the administration of Iraqi police services.
Since October 1, PDP senior police advisors have held hundreds of meetings with Iraqi counterparts, fostering positive work relationships and identifying specific projects and areas for mentoring and advice. A joint “Small Committee” of senior Embassy, PDP and Iraqi Interior Ministry (MOI) officials meets regularly to provide guidance and direction for PDP activities and efforts. At this early stage, the predominance of mentoring and advising requests fielded by the Senior Police Advisors pertain to higher order management tasks required to run a police department such as strategic planning, recruitment, logistics, and managing large-scale criminal investigations.
Let me offer a few examples of specific activities in which our advisors are engaged:
- At the MOI’s request, PDP is already putting together a strategic plan on gender and human rights;
- In Basrah, PDP is already working with the Airport leadership to upgrade security procedures in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations; and
- In Erbil, advisors are already providing advanced forensic training at the crime lab there.
The PDP effort is a true whole-of-government partnership. DHS experts provide advanced training for Iraqi leadership in the MOI’s Department of Border Enforcement in detecting document fraud, human trafficking, drug interdiction and smuggling. The FBI’s Legal Attaché Office in Baghdad work with the PDP to implement several FBI-designed training courses aimed at helping Iraq’s counter-terrorism components work together more effectively and collaboratively take on terrorism and organized crime matters.
Oversight is a Priority
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is absolutely committed to program performance and accountability, and we welcome input from the oversight community to identify measures that strengthen program management and transparency. In this vein, we appreciate the audit report on PDP released by Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction on October 31, 2011 and are implementing the three recommendations identified for action.
Specifically, we agree that a current assessment of the Iraqi MOI and police services is necessary to provide a starting point against which to measure progress. We also regard such an assessment as critical to enabling us to finalize our comprehensive PDP plan. Our updated planning called for our senior police advisors to conduct baseline assessments of existing Iraqi capabilities. I am pleased to report that since October 1, they have done just that. Our deployed advisors have submitted dozens of reviews, and we have a Washington-based team of experts analyzing their input to assemble a final assessment report. We will use the results of this review to refine and execute the future PDP programming, and ensure that our performance metrics are clear and realistic for each. Our advisors also have individual work plans that are tied to our program objectives and performance metrics.
We will continue to adjust our police assistance program, as planned, based on real-time developments on the ground assessed by the experts we have deployed. A dedicated INL monitoring and evaluation staff will measure PDP progress and every six months INL Headquarters, the Embassy, and our PDP leadership will perform a program review to assess progress and to make course corrections, if needed. We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with the Congress about these issues.
We also agree that Iraqi buy-in and ownership of the program is critical to its success. The PDP grew out of the 2008 US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, and later discussions with Iraqi officials on law enforcement needs and priorities. We continue to pursue a formal PDP implementing agreement as SIGIR suggested, but we are proceeding in coordination with the Government of Iraq, in the absence of a permanent Minister of Interior.
That said, the Ministry’s commitment to the program is well established. Our two governments continue to share the costs involved with police development efforts. For example, the will not pay for infrastructure, equipment, and operational support for Government of Iraq security entities, including the police. The Government of Iraq will fund these costs directly, along with all GOI personnel costs.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members, the State Department and our colleagues throughout the U.S. government recognize the complexity and the importance of the mission being undertaken by our Police Development Program. And both we and the Iraqi government have committed to bilateral cooperation to help realize our common security goals. Just today in Iraq, Vice President Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki chaired a session of the U.S.-Iraqi Higher Coordinating Committee, created under the 2008 US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement for long-term bilateral cooperation. More frequently, a committee of criminal justice experts from the U.S. and Iraq meet to discuss law enforcement and judicial cooperation, including the further integration and security of Iraqi police, courts and prisons, and to enhance law enforcement relationships that address corruption and transnational crimes. And the United States is making good on this commitment by implementing the Police Development Program.
The State Department does not underestimate the challenge of implementing this complex police assistance program in an environment that still presents great risks to our personnel. However, the threat that would result from our failure to follow through on the investment the U.S. has already made – and for which American servicemen and women, diplomats, and others have sacrificed their lives – is even greater. Iraq requires continued international support to remain on its path toward modern, professional, community-oriented police capable of responding to the difficult security conditions present in Iraq today. We absolutely expect that our mentoring and advising support for the Iraqi police service today will enable Iraqis to secure communities more quickly and allow democratic principles of government under the rule of law to take hold.
We look forward to working closely with you to advance the goal of helping Iraq achieve and sustain lasting peace and stability. Thank you.