U.S. General: Life Improving for People of Anbar Province

There has been a certain amount of MSM coverage of the fact that Sunni tribal chiefs have begun encouraging men in their areas to volunteer for the Iraqi police force [file photo]. But I haven't seen MSM stories on the way that increased police presence may have translated into a more normal day-to-day life for the people of Anbar -- the large, Sunni-dominated province of western Iraq that contains such former hotspots as Fallujah and Ramadi.

So that was the question on my mind when I had the chance to participate yesterday in a blogger conference call with Brigadier General David D. Phillips [pictured below], the Deputy Commanding General of CPATT, the entity responsible for the training of the new Iraqi police force. Here's the general's response to my question as to the effect of the presence of Iraqi police on life in cities in Anbar.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID D. PHILLIPS: Right now you're seeing many of the tribes, the families, and you know it looks like they've had their fill of al Qaeda, of the terrorism that's going on, losing their sons and daughters and just having their livelihoods torn apart.

As you know, Al Anbar was an absolute combat zone. That was about as down and dirty as you can get. But now they've rallied together. They're allowing their sons to go to the academies to train and be police officers, and they have their local groups, which are basically like community-watch groups, they're working hand-in-hand with the Marine forces that are out there and the Army forces out there.

They're turning in the insurgents, they're turning in caches of weapons, and I have to tell you that commerce is working, the stores are back open, and you get small kids on the street waving as you go by in a humvee. You didn't see that a few months back.

I received a surprising, and encouraging, response to my later question as to whether it was the Marines or CPATT who had lead responsibility for training Iraqi police recruits at the new police academy in Habbaniyah. The answer: neither.

BRIG. GEN. PHILLIPS: Well, actually, I would like to say, this is Iraqi-led. Although we have about 15 personnel that are advisers out there from CPATT, the instructors are all Iraqis, the administration of the academy is Iraqi, and it's really totally run -- other than a bit of tutelage, guidance and mentoring there, we do have some Marines that are providing oversight on the life support contracts to make sure that water, ice, food are all delivered. But short of that, this is an Iraqi-run academy on an Iraqi military installation.

Good news. But where have you seen it reported by the MSM?

Mark was in Anbar province in November. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net

Foreign Policy Iraq War on Terrorism Military MRC/NB News