Members of the Iraqi Highway Patrol unfurl the
national flag atop the new Iraqi Highway Patrol Headquarters in
Baghdad August 25 in preparation for its grand opening ceremony.
The Iraqi Highway Patrol (IHP) officially opened its new headquarters
during a ribbon-cutting ceremony August 25 in Baghdad.
The location was chosen in February by members of the
18th Military Police Brigade in coordination with the Multi-National
Security Transition Command-Iraq Civil Affairs and the IHP. The Iraqi
government owned site was once a special police training compound under
the former regime. Construction was underway by April and completed in
The new headquarters is well received by the officers
who officially moved in and began operations from it on July 30. The
building previously occupied by the IHP consisted of four ramshackle
rooms in a dilapidated building owned by the Baghdad Major Crimes Unit,
located in an extremely dangerous neighborhood. The facility was a
frequent target of insurgent attacks.
The new building has running water, flushing toilets
and electricity; commonplace commodities for the average American, but a
luxury for many Iraqi’s. It is also more spacious, enabling the
officers to conduct maintenance and small-scale training.
The cost of the renovation totaled approximately $2
million, part of the Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund allocated by
U.S. Congress for rebuilding Iraq. The project included the
overhaul of eight buildings, 11 guard towers, a surrounding wall, new
security gates, sewage system, water, and electricity.
The Iraqi police are not the only ones to benefit
from this large-scale project, however. Outlying communities have also
gained many important, long-term advantages.
18th Military Police Brigade Civil
Affairs Officer, Maj. Andy Johnson, bids farewell to Iraqi
Highway Patrol Commissioner, Maj. Gen. Ali Al Khazali, August 25
following the grand opening ceremony of the new IHP headquarters
in Baghdad. The 18th MP Brigade, which has
trained and mentored the IHP since December 2004, has
transferred authority of all IHP operations to the 42nd
MP Brigade out of Fort Lewis, Wash.
“There is now an increased police presence in a
neighborhood that desperately needed it,” said Maj. Andy Johnson, civil
affairs officer for the 18th MP Brigade. “The surrounding neighborhoods
have also gained a working sewer system, running water and electricity.”
The project has also provided employment to more than 200 Iraqi workers
for more than five months, Johnson said.
The site is large enough for future expansion as
Iraq’s security forces grow, and its location is ideal due to the ease
of highway access and proximity to the local airport.
The violence facing this group of Iraqi police
officers on a daily basis has now decreased to a degree. The
headquarters is no longer positioned on a main highway as was the
previous one, where drive-by shootings and small arms attacks were
almost a daily occurrence.
This is a major step toward consolidating Iraqi
control over the security of the main highways and commercial arteries
in Iraq, Johnson said.
Johnson and his team monitored the construction
process on a near daily basis and ensured there was adequate security at
the site. Since December, the 18th has
overseen the start of at least six other highway patrol stations which
are currently under construction between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad.
Upon completion, there will be one station located every 50-60
Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, MNSTC-I commander, gave a
special thank you to Johnson and 18th Commander, Col. Jim Brown, for
their tremendous efforts throughout the past year, helping to transform
Petraeus also commended IHP Commissioner, Maj. Gen.
Ali Al Khazali and the officers of the Highway Patrol for their spirit
“The members of the IHP have demonstrated courage,
initiative and determination. Under the command of Maj. Gen. Ali, they
have come a long way in a short time.” Petraeus also stressed the
importance of honesty, integrity and cooperation within the
organization, with fair and impartial treatment to all Iraqi’s “to
continue the already courageous path of the IHP.”
“The way ahead will be difficult,” Petraeus told
them. “The enemies of democracy do not want to see Iraq improve. You
have shown you are ready to meet the challenge. Let me say shukran
(thank you) for your service to your country.”
Also in attendance were Maj. Gen. Ali Galeb, the
Deputy Minister of Interior for Iraqi Police and Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil,
Commander of the Civilian Police Assistance Transition Team.
ceremony, a traditional Iraqi feast was prepared both to commemorate the
occasion as well as to bid farewell to the 18th MP Brigade who have
handed over IHP operations to the 42nd Military Police Brigade.