With the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s stronghold in Mosul now down to its final 500 square meters, the U.S.-led coalition has introduced a plan to quickly establish a police presence in liberated areas.
It’s called “police-presence-in-a-box.”
The boxes are shipping containers filled with all the necessary equipment for a small police force to establish a visible presence in areas Islamic State has destroyed infrastructure.
Inside are a tent with a large working space, furniture, lighting, water tanks, laptops, phones, GPS, weapons storage, checkpoint equipment, and two land cruisers.
The box also includes equipment for barriers around the police station, if required for self-defense. The tent will also enable police to conduct business, such as investigations, and for a police station commander to work.
The contents can be unpacked and set up quickly to allow police to begin serving citizens. The first of the 100 planned boxes will be rolled out over the summer, and it will be followed on by a border-guard-in-a-box initiative.
The current plan is to send 10 police boxes to each of the five provinces liberated from ISIS — Ninewa, Kirkuk, Saladin, Diyala and Anbar. The remaining 50 will be sent where they are needed, as the security situation unfolds.
The idea came up during a workshop with about 70 Iraqi senior policemen, said Canadian Brig. Gen. Dave Anderson, who is in charge of the coalition team in Baghdad advising Iraq’s defense leaders.
“The Iraqis are very, very excited by this. It enables them to get their presence there that much quicker,” he said at a Pentagon briefing on Thursday.
The boxes allow for an easy set up, particularly in places where infrastructure has been destroyed.
“Infrastructure takes a long time to build, and so we considered the idea of something that was temporary and relocatable,” he said.
“The idea is that they can get in there very quickly within a day,” he said. “Everything they require is in the box.”
Anderson said the first two boxes were delivered earlier in the week to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Camp Dublin, a police training institute, for training purposes.
The border-guard-in-a-box will be slightly different from the police-presence-in-a-box, with slightly different equipment. As border outposts, they will need to be more defensible than the police boxes, Anderson said.
“It has a tented design — designed to be the tent in which the platoon would live out of. The container, if you will, serves as an elevated platform for observation along the border. So that’s kind of the scheme of maneuver,” he said.
The boxes will cost $250,000 each, for a total of $25 million for 100 boxes or $50 million for 200 boxes, paid for by a U.S. Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund approved by Congress.
Anderson called the price a bargain.
“I’d characterize it as $25 million to establish 100 police stations. And that is definitely a bargain. And $25 million to help reestablish a border between two countries, which is also pretty — pretty substantial,” Anderson said.
To date, the coalition has trained 15,000 police and 6,000 border guards, to supplement existing forces.
They have also trained 40,000 Iraqi army forces, 21,000 Kurdish peshmerga forces, 14,000 elite Counter Terrorism Service forces, and 9,500 tribal mobilization forces, Anderson said.
The goal, Anderson said, is to transition policing duties from the army to an intelligence-led community-based policing.
“An effective and credible police and civil defense structure is imperative in order to make the transition from the current green, or army, policing to true-blue policing based on the model of intelligence-led community-based policing — which is the future,” he said.