Securing The Iraqi Homeland: The Differing Faces Of Security | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Securing The Iraqi Homeland: The Differing Faces Of Security 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 4:20 pm

Page 3 of 7

Amal and I are the last to turn in our press passes and as we walk through the back-to-normal streets, I ask her if we are safe.  "I can't imagine any other place where we would be so safe," she replies.  The taxi drivers are not so convinced and all refuse us passage.  One of the Mahdi army chiefs stands with us at the main intersection and still no taxi will take us.  He eagerly invites us to lunch but we sadly decline because of another appointment.  This remains as one of my only regrets of the trip.  He arranges for a car to take us to another intersection where he gets out with us and waits until we secure a taxi.


"We deal with the weapon very carefully.  When first learning about the weapon you must learn how to carry it.  There is no difference in the workings of the AK-47, the MP-5 or the M-16.  At the end we will have a bullet in the target.  This AK is Russian made.  There is a difference between the western version and the eastern version.  The western companies make the AK with the safety on one side and the eastern has it on the other."


"Because they have conflict with everything.  Whether they make cars, or weapons, or instruments.  Everything - there is a conflict."

Sumer Security Trainees, many of whom have had experience in the military, run through a series of rigorous exercises as part of their required two-week training course.

I am getting my first Kalashnikov-handling lesson at the Sumer International Security Company located in Baghdad, not far from my hotel.  My instructor, (who asks I not reveal his name) is a former captain in the Iraqi army who trained cadets at the military academy.  His specialty was psychology and says this kept him from participating in actual fighting.  In a discussion about the differences between civilians and soldiers, and the level of political participation of each group, he reveals he never got involved in political ideas because to do so would have gotten him killed by Saddam.  He also reveals that his wife and son were killed four years ago - something having to do with the former regime - but he will give no details.  "Maybe I will tell you next time, if we get to know each other better," he says.

He is an exceptional instructor and by the end of the session I have learned how to pick up the gun, check my surroundings before I lift it, lock and unlock the safety, check to see if it is loaded, load it, and in general how to handle it.  Later in his office by way of two interpreters he says, "Honestly, I wish I could work with more Americans to prove to the whole world that the Americans have not occupied Iraq, but that they are here to help Iraqi people.  We have a lot of good ideas and experience with the terrorists whom we have caught in the past.  The problem that prevents me from working in good conditions are the new parties that have appeared in the Iraqi community.  It is not about a love between American people and Iraqi people - it is about rebuilding Iraq.  The Americans are the people who will help us rebuild Iraq."

The actual training facility and corporate headquarters of Sumer is located in a larger complex, a several block area of a Baghdad neighborhood, sealed off from the outside world by huge protective cement barricades and an astounding number of security personnel.  Eight hundred security men either live or pass through here on a daily basis.  All in all, SIS employs 4000 people, 34 of whom have been killed on the job since May of 2003.  A security guard working at SIS makes $400 per month - better than nothing in a country with a 60 percent unemployment rate, but many guards tell me this is not enough to survive.  The guards are a mixture of Arabs, Christians, and Kurds.  The complex also contains private homes, city streets, and the Al-Sadeer Hotel that houses DynCorp personnel who act in advisory positions to the Iraqi Police force and SIS trainers.

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