RAMADI, Iraq -- "The terrorists' goal is to hamper police work, terrorize our citizens and show that the government is unable to protect the Iraqi people," said Hamid Bayati, a deputy foreign minister in the interim Iraqi government, explaining the intent of terrorists who detonated a car bomb in the town of Baqubah, which lies about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad this week, killing 68 people and injuring dozens. Then to show his resolve and that of his fellow Iraqis, Bayati declared that the outcome the terrorists are hoping to achieve "will not happen."
The bombing in Baghdad was aimed at a group of people who were waiting outside a police station -- new potential recruits for the Iraqi Police Force. Because these recruits, once trained, will patrol the streets, gather intelligence, provide security and confiscate weapons, they represent a direct threat to the terrorists, who only want to cause chaos. Therefore, they, like officials in the interim government who are restoring order and building democracy in Iraq, become targets. It's a sign of desperation and, frankly, a sign that progress is being made to build the institutions of government that will serve the people of Iraq.
Here in Ramadi, the Iraqi Police Force and National Guard are out in force. They are doing a much better job, and it is noticeable that they have progressed since I was here in April. They patrol streets, guard checkpoints, and search neighborhoods to root out and capture insurgents. They're growing more effective every day, thanks to the training they have received from the Marines and other police and security units with the coalition forces.
The Iraqi National Guard and the Iraqi Police make up two of the four Iraqi security forces. Since the transfer of sovereignty at the end of June, there seems to be more progress being made, and the members of the Police and Guard are taking more responsibility and pride in their work. As one Marine put it, "The Iraqi Police realize it is up to them to provide safety and security for their fellow citizens," so it gives them incentive.
In Ramadi, the hard work is paying off. Yes, it's still dangerous, and more security forces are needed. But the Iraqis who have been through training and are now patrolling the streets are getting better at their jobs every day. They are learning to provide their own security and, of course, the Marines have taken a lot of terrorists and weapons off the streets.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.