• BREAKING NEWS Secret Service chief resigns amid security lapses

Fresno non-profit helped outfit now failing Iraqi forces

The U.S. is preparing to send about 300 advisors as the crisis in Iraq intensifies.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
The U.S. is preparing to send about 300 advisors as the crisis in Iraq intensifies. And now a local non-profit that collected millions of dollars and donations to outfit the now failing Iraqi security forces say its work has been for naught.

President Barack Obama says military action in Iraq is an option. The people he's sending to Iraq are going to advise Iraqi forces, he said at a White House press briefing.
A founding member of Brotherhood of the Badge, a group that outfitted those same security forces, says he's worried about the friends he's made in Iraq and feels his work is now for naught.

Right now, U.S. troops are already taking a more active role in the increasing mid-east crisis. Iraqi forces seem to be falling apart as a Sunni Muslim Militant army, called ISIS, is threatening to overrun Iraq.

Insurgents have already taken over some major cities. Now they threaten Baghdad and the U.S. Embassy.

"We will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if we conclude the situation on the ground requires it," Obama said.

"It's kind of all for naught," Mike Harris, founding member of Brotherhood of the Badge, said. "To say nothing of the 4,500 troops that we lost over there that were killed and the billions of dollars wasted."

Harris is frustrated with this worsening situation. For years he and his non-profit group, Brotherhood of the Badge, used local law enforcement surplus items to outfit nearly 30,000 Iraqis.

It began with Fresno police officers serving overseas and stretched to more than one hundred agencies across the country.

"We had ballistic vests, helmets, almost $3 million in cash collected," Harris said. "We bought radios, boots, the other accruement the policemen on the streets of Fresno would have just so they could get up and running and do their job."

They delivered the items first-hand, getting to know many people there. "Because of the situation in the northern part of Iraq where they are, it's been a blackout," Harris said. "I haven't been able to contact anyone. I worry about their safety."

Harris thinks the recent troop drawdown left the Iraqi forces unprepared to protect the country. Obama is showing a cautious approach. But the U.S. role could increase depending on the actions of ISIS and Iraqi forces.

Those extra U.S. troops could arrive in Iraq in just a few days. The president has not ruled out airstrikes but he says it won't happen just yet.



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