The academy, set up shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein, has brought in Iraqi recruits to be trained by international instructors in the hope they would be the seed crop of a new Iraqi police culture — one that would protect citizens and not prop up a repressive regime. More than 40,000 have been trained there, a third of Iraq's total police force.
"It gives them an opportunity to focus solely on the training at hand," says Gary Bullard, director of the Jordanian International Police Training Center.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the same divisions that are tearing Iraq apart at home are at work at the training center as well. The cadets are Iraqi Shias and Sunnis and Kurds — communities that are virtually at war.
Here's a little fact that illustrates the problem. When the firing range was designed, instructors were worried about giving Iraqis from the various warring communities weapons with live ammunition. So they built sandbag defenses to get behind, just in case. Not only that, but the instructors are all armed.
While fighting has never broken out at the center, loyalties to the warring militias are a problem. That's why the Iraqi instructors fear their identities becoming known.
"The main enemy is the militias. This is the problem we've got in Iraq, because the militias control everything," says one instructor.
Thus far, more than 2,600 Iraqi cops have been killed in insurgent and sectarian attacks.
All the training provided can't really prepare cadets for what happens when they try to confront the militias at home. If a cadet's friend or brother or father is killed, when they arrest someone, they have to worry about the effect on their own family if the other person is part of some militia.
It's become embarrassing for the Iraqis to have to train police outside the country, and the plan now, says Phillips, is to move all the training back into Iraq ... back into all the problems the facility in Jordan tried to — but didn't quite — avoid.