The Sniper Dance

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Here's an early look at Military.com's lede story tomorrow morning (barring breaking news, of course). Christian continues his reporting from Iraq, this time focusing on the enemy sniper threat in Tikrit:

They call it the sniper dance.

Youre out in the open. There are houses all around you -- cover and concealment for enemy sharpshooters to plink off a U.S. Soldier.

Stand there, wait a few seconds, shift to the right -- then do it all over again.

We dont want a sniper to get a good shot off on us, one Soldier says. So we keep moving all the time.

In this home region for the deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the security that has only recently descended here is tenuous at best. With the Iraqi army largely pushed out of the surrounding towns and villages to help U.S. forces root out the most tenacious holdouts in other areas, the focus here is on building a durable police force that can secure the population and at the same time keep the insurgency from sparking up again.

American Military Police units and the civilian advisors that help them recognize the mandate is a tall order. With corruption a part of everyday life here and a policing philosophy making the transition from being an instrument of oppression to a force that serves the community, putting the local police on the right track takes constant interaction and a deep reservoir of patience.

Our motto is no free chicken, said Staff Sgt. Joe Cline, a platoon sergeant with the 56th Military Police Company, who added their main mission is to cut the Iraqi polices dependence on the U.S. military.

Each of the platoons with the 56th Military Police Company -- which is made of Army reservists from a Arizona, California and Nevada -- is divided into smaller Police Transition Teams, called PiTTs. Paired with civilian contractors drawn from police departments from across the country, the PiTT teams patrol the towns outside the sprawling Camp Speicher base just to the north of Tikrit, visiting police stations, meeting with their leaders and assessing what needs they have to keep cops on the beat.

At the Tikrit patrol station, MPs wanted to see if a shooting incident that occurred the previous day showed up on the stations log books. After a furious series of mistranslations and fumbling through piles of papers, the Iraqi policeman said he didnt have the shooting -- which occurred just a block away -- on his books.

That was reported at another station, the Iraqi policeman told the MPs.

Frustrated, the MPs looked at each other with dismay.

Read the rest in the headlines at Military.com, first thing Monday morning.

And I'm headed for Kansas University tomorrow to be part of a milblogging panel with Jack Holt from DoD's New Media Directorate and Castle of Argghhh's John Donovan. I'll be posting when I can from the road. If any DT readers are in or around Jayhawk Country please stop by the campus and say hello after the panel on Tuesday night.

(Photo by Christian Lowe)

-- Ward

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