Police officers wearing the new blue, black and grey uniform, in a digital camouflage pattern similar to that used in US uniforms, paraded in front of Jawad al-Bolani, the Iraqi interior minister, at a ceremony in Baghdad.

"We are all proud today that the national police force is wearing new uniforms to encounter all circumstances," Bolani said. "These new garments will not be counterfeited," he promised.

Dozens of people are killed in sectarian attacks every day across the country. Many of the attacks are carried out by gunmen in police uniforms and vehicles.

Police commanders say many of the attackers are impostors have bought, stolen or produced their own counterfeit police uniforms. The old-style uniforms are freely available in many Baghdad markets.
  
Training programme

US General Joseph Peterson, who is in charge of the training programme for Iraqi police, welcomed the improvements.
  
"These new uniforms and also the new standard markings for the vehicles of the national police ... begin the process of transformation," he said.

Peterson also paid tribute to the 4,000 officers who have been killed in the past two years.

Counterfeit old uniforms can be
bought at Baghdad markets

"Policemen, national policemen, border policemen have paid a great price over the last couple of years here in Iraq to build the forces that are necessary to provide safe and secure environment to the people of Iraq."

Police Colonel Abdul-Munim Jassim explained why the new uniform would be difficult for criminals to fake.
  
"The Americans take a photo of the policeman together with the number of the uniform. If found elsewhere, it will immediately be recognised as stolen," he said.

Bolani promised tough measures against anyone caught counterfeiting or trading in the uniforms and praised his officers, telling them their work had begun to turn back the tide of violence around Iraq.