NEWS | April 16, 2009

Troops train Iraqis in forensic techniques

By None , American Forces Press Service

Capt. Ghissan K. Towman, police department forensic examiner in Hillah, Iraq, and Jessica D. Janisch, Joint Expeditionary Forensics Facility 1 certified latent print examiner, compare fingerprints collected from a CD to a training exercise fingerprint card.
Capt. Ghissan K. Towman, police department forensic examiner in Hillah, Iraq, and Jessica D. Janisch, Joint Expeditionary Forensics Facility 1 certified latent print examiner, compare fingerprints collected from a CD to a training exercise fingerprint card.

WASHINGTON (April 16, 2009) – Coalition forces in Iraq increasingly are working to develop the country’s nonmilitary capabilities, such as its criminal justice and medical systems. In recent weeks, that has meant training the Iraqis in forensic science and medical practices.

Troops assigned to the coalition’s Joint Expeditionary Forensics Facility 1 began training Iraqi police outside Forward Operating Base Kalsu in southern Iraq on April 2. While the U.S. court system relies on forensic science to convict criminals, the Iraqi court system does not accept forensic evidence to determine guilt or innocence. The coalition team is trying to help forensic science evolve in Iraq.

"We hope to not only train the [Iraqi police], but also the Iraqi judges and try to get their court systems to accept forensic evidence," said Jessica D. Janisch, JEFF 1 certified latent print examiner.

To start the training process, JEFF 1 staff members visited Capt. Ghissan K. Towman, Hillah Police Station forensic examiner, at his laboratory.

"We had the opportunity to see how his lab is set up and what type of equipment he has," Janisch said. "We found out that the lab has a lot of equipment, but the examiners don’t know how to use it." The JEFF 1 staff members decided to train Towman in collecting, processing and documenting forensic evidence.

"Today is my first day of training, and I’m very happy and honored to have this opportunity," Towman said.

To demonstrate collecting forensic evidence, Towman dusted and lifted fingerprints from a compact disc. Towman and Janisch then moved to a device that looks like a microscope, but actually is a camera suspended above a flat surface, surrounded by lights.

Placing a small ruler next to the fingerprints, Janisch taught Towman how to take a scaled picture to show the actual size of and measure the details within the fingerprints. Janisch then demonstrated how to download the picture onto a computer to document and compare it to possible suspects’ fingerprints.

"I hope to learn everything," Towman said. "Everything I learn here, I can go back to my laboratory to put the knowledge to use, teach my colleagues and capture every criminal."

Coalition forces are conducting similar training sessions in Iraq’s medical community.

The 41st Fires Brigade’s combined medical engagement team visited the Hawraa Clinic in Kut to share knowledge and conduct joint medical screenings with Iraqi medical personnel April 2.

The visit was part of Operation Gunner Med, a joint medical civil-military operation between the Wasit director general of health and 41st Fires Brigade, designed to restore medical service capacity in Wasit and bring medical care up to regional standards.

"It’s very rewarding to know that we are going out and helping people with their problems," said Army Maj. Deydre Teyhen, a physical therapist with the 10th Combat Support Hospital at nearby Forward Operating Base Delta.

The visit was Teyhen’s first trip to an Iraqi clinic in support of Operation Gunner Med, and she said she brings a different type of medicine to patients.

"Medication may not always provide the answer to pain problems," Teyhen said. "Sometimes, manipulating the spine can relieve the pain."

Along with helping people with their backs, Teyhen also helps patients determine what kind of assistive device a patient might need to help with a muscular or skeletal problem.

"We try to identify what solutions we can provide to them for long-term health problems that will enable them to get around in their communities," she said.

During this visit, the team delivered two wheelchairs to the Hawraa clinic, and the team has received about 500 more to distribute to clinics throughout Iraq’s Wasit province. Wasit has suffered a critical shortage of female

medical practitioners, as many physicians fled Iraq in 2003.

"Treating the women was very rewarding - being able to help them with their neck, back and knee pain - it was nice to be able to help," Teyhen said.

The medical team and Iraqi doctors discussed clinical practice standards, patient information and managing patient care, and they saw more than 180 Iraqi patients during the visit.

Meanwhile, in northern Iraq, Army medics from the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team recently trained Iraqi army medics in Kirkuk on medical trauma and sustainment.

The training was designed to develop the students’ skills so they can train other Iraqi soldiers, Army 1st Lt. Sean Spencer, a medical platoon leader with 8th Cavalry Regiment, said.

The training was equivalent to the U.S. Army Combat Lifesaver Course and Tactical Combat Casualty Care, courses that include classroom instruction and practical exercises on medical tasks such as properly bandaging a wound, treating patients for shock or fractures, and administering intravenous fluids.

"During the training, the [Iraqi army] medics and infantrymen were involved at all levels," Spencer said.

The Iraqi soldiers progressed from asking questions to answering questions, from being students to being instructors, and from being evaluated while undergoing trauma lanes to establishing and running trauma lanes.

"This training offered every [Iraqi army] soldier involved the ability and confidence to assess and treat soldiers on the battlefield," Spencer said.

Overall, 21 Iraqi soldiers attended the one-week course and graduated with the knowledge to establish their own medical training programs.

"The [Iraqi army] soldiers who attended the course can take this knowledge back and create programs to better establish a medical course for their units," Spencer said. "This program is intended to train the trainers."