The U.S. effort to rebuild the Iraqi police has failed, reports the New York Times. The newspaper concludes that the police “are a battered and dysfunctional force that has helped bring Iraq to the brink of civil war.” Police officers are accused of operating death squads for powerful political groups or profit. Citizens are setting up neighborhood security squads. Killings of police officers are rampant, with at least 547 slain this year. The Times says that the “police, initially envisioned by the Bush administration as a cornerstone in a new democracy, have instead become part of Iraq’s grim constellation of shadowy commandos, ruthless political militias and other armed groups.”
Field training of the Iraqi police, the most critical element of the effort, was left to DynCorp International, a company based in Irving, Tex., that received $750 million in contracts. This spring, three years after administration officials rejected the large American-led field training effort, U.S. military commanders are adopting that very approach. Declaring 2006 the year of the police, the Pentagon is dispatching 3,000 American soldiers and DynCorp contractors to train and mentor police recruits and officers across Iraq.