INDC in Iraq: Judgment day in Fallujah

There aren’t a lot of hopeful signs, but they’re there if you look.

Recruiting drives throughout the country — key milestones in the development of Iraq’s security forces — have been the scenes of some of the war’s worst attacks, as insurgents view them as opportunities to destabilize the young government…

A dozen or so recruits had been processed by mid-morning when the insurgents attacked. Five mortar rounds were fired trying to “dial-in” the police station…

Processing continued until the early evening, when the tired Marines counted heads: 102 new recruits would board a plane for the Jordanian International Police Training Center in the morning, soon augmenting the roughly 700 police manning stations in and around Fallujah. Some had been turned away, including a 60 year-old volunteer.

In 2004, the number of police in Fallujah was zero.

Bill’s posted photos at INDC, including one of a kid who got too close to a mortar. Only a little too close, though, thank god.

Meanwhile, in Ramadi, the hottest hotbed of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the locals are on the offensive:

After Sunni insurgents killed his father and four of his brothers last year, Fatikhan declared war against the insurgency.

He convened a summit of about a dozen prominent sheiks. From that meeting came a document called “The Awakening,” in which Fatikhan persuaded all but one sheik to join him in opposition to the insurgency.

The sheiks pledged to encourage young men to join the police force and even the Shiite-led army. The document states that killing an American is the same as killing a member of their tribes. Since the gathering, Fatikhan said, the sheiks have “eliminated” a number of insurgents…

Army Col. Sean MacFarland, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, credits Fatikhan and other sheiks for an increase in police enrollment, a decrease in insurgent recruitment and new courage among Iraqi forces.

A year ago, insurgents blew up every police station in Ramadi, and officers were afraid to return to duty. The U.S. military rebuilt many of the stations. During a recent attack, Iraqi police officers stood their ground…

Fatikhan ordered his followers to “adopt” the U.S. Army’s liaison to the tribes and give him an Arabic name, Wissam, which means warrior. After the officer, Capt. Travis Patriquin, was killed by a roadside bomb, the sheik ordered that one of the new police stations be named in his honor.

Patriquin was killed with Maj. Megan McClung, but not before helping to popularize the plan they’re now using in Ramadi.