US Iraqi police funding condemned

A US military police officer shows "stop and search" procedures to Iraqi police and army recruits in the southern city of Karbala, 20 August, 2009 The US has spent about $8bn (£5bn) on training Iraq's police since 2003

A US government watchdog has criticised a programme to train Iraqi police, saying it could become a "bottomless pit" for American money.

The report said only some 12% of the money spent in 2011 would be spent directly helping Iraq's police.

It also pointed out that the programme had yet to gain the support of the Iraqi government.

President Barack Obama announced last week that all US troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year.

The programme for police training is run by the Department of State, which took over the role from the Department of Defense this month.

The report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said the Department of State had failed to put a plan in place for assessing the current and future capabilities of the Iraqi police.

"Without specific goals, objectives and performance measures, the PDP (Police Development Program) could become a 'bottomless pit' for US dollars intended for mentoring, advising and training the Iraqi police forces," the report said.

'What tangible benefit?'

It also quoted Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi as saying Iraq did not "need" the programme, and he would not ask for it.

"What tangible benefit will Iraqis see from this police training program? With most of the money spent on lodging, security, support, all the MOI [Iraqi Ministry of the Interior] gets is a little expertise, and that is if the program materialises," Mr Assadi was cited as telling the report's authors.

The report also raised questions about the price of the programme. It said the cost of each trainer had risen to $6.2 million (£3.9m) a year.

SIGIR's inspector general said the state department did no fully co-operate with the report.

Department of State Assistant Secretary William Brownfield said the government "generally agrees" with the report's recommendations, while defending the programme.

He said the Department of State would seek to reduce costs, and had been hampered by the fact that Iraq does not have a permanent interior ministry and by a delay in receiving an independent assessment on Iraqi police capabilities.

According to the SIGIR report, the US has spent about $8bn (£5bn) on training Iraq's police force since the US-led invasion in 2003, which by 2010 included 412,000 officers.

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