Just days after McCain and Lieberman left Ramadi, I went to a police recruiting center and watched as hundreds of young Sunni males were being processed to become cops. Interestingly, the detailed screening of each volunteer was being conducted by police officers from Pittsburg, New York, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and a half-dozen other American cities. Those who passed the background check, medical and literacy tests and physical exam -- about 70 percent -- were then dispatched to Jordan for a six-week training course.
These new police recruits had all responded to the call of Sheikh Abdel Sattar Baziya. He is Al Anbar's most powerful Sunni tribal leader and the instigator of what he calls "The Awakening" -- self-determination through Sunni cooperation with local U.S. military commanders and the Shia-led government in Baghdad. In conversations with Sheikh Sattar at his home, and later at Camp Phoenix, where Iraqi police receive tactical and human-rights training, this populist Sunni chieftain made it clear that this is a war that the Iraqi people must win for themselves. Sheikh Sattar's analysis of the situation is shared by Al Anbar's Sunni governor, Maamoun Sami Rashid al-Awani. Though a Baghdad appointee, Gov. Maamoun, who I have now interviewed on three separate trips to Iraq, is convinced that more U.S. combat power is not the answer. He too wants more U.S. trainers and civil affairs personnel. On more than one occasion Gov. Maamoun, Sheikh Sattar and every military commander with whom I spoke, described the Police Training Teams (PTTs), Military Transition Teams (MTTs) and Civil Affairs Groups (CAGs) as unsung heroes and the keys to victory in Iraq. All of them are advocates for more trainers, improved supply support from the central government and assurances that the Interior Ministry implement responsive administrative and pay systems for the police. One U.S. logistics expert complained that he was receiving no assistance whatsoever from our embassy in helping the Iraqis overcome the belief that "a full shelf is a good shelf." None suggested more U.S. combat troops as a solution. And they all wonder if anyone in Baghdad or Washington is listening. A "surge" or "targeted increase in U.S. troop strength" or whatever the politicians want to call dispatching more combat troops to Iraq isn't the answer. Adding more trainers and helping the Iraqis to help themselves, is. Sending more U.S. combat troops is simply sending more targets. Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on the FOX News Channel. To find out more about Oliver North, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC
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.