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Iraq Trains SWAT Team

To cope with the growing number of terrorist attacks on coalition forces and soft civilian targets, Iraq is training a new police unit in urban warfare.

Several police officers line up and fire their pistols at targets a few paces away. Then they step aside to make room for the next group. They all are part of an elite team of 50 former Iraqi police officers and soldiers who are being trained specifically to combat urban terror.

Their trainer says the new breed of Iraqi police will be trained in things like anti-ambush tactics and house-to-house searches.

Majid Razi, one of the new trainees, says that even though he used to be a police officer, virtually all the specialized training is new to him, including target practice and physical conditioning.

Mr. Razi said it is really good training, that they are learning many new things including the use of special weapons during house searches.

Major Mushtak Fadel, an assistant to Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister, said the new special weapons and tactics team, known as a SWAT team, will have not only additional police responsibilities, but will also take on some military duties.

The first batch of the SWAT academy trainees is expected to start patrolling the streets of Baghdad in about two weeks, when they get their graduation papers.

Even though police stations are a frequent target of terror attacks, many of the new trainees say they are eager to graduate and start working.

Major Fadel says he hopes 300 to 400 urban warfare specialists will complete the training by the end of the year. He says the elite police units may then be big enough to get their own name.