211th Military Police Battalion plays important role in detainee operations and the responsible drawdown of U.S. Forces in Iraq
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – The Taji Theater Internment Facility and Reconciliation Center was officially transferred to the Government of Iraq in a ceremony here, Mar. 15, 2010
Maj. Gen. David E. Quantock, U.S. Forces - Iraq deputy commanding general for detainee operations, and Mr. Dara Nour al-Deen, Iraqi Minister of Justice, presided over the transfer ceremony which signified another important step in the responsible drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq.
In addition to the $107 million state-of-the-art detention facility, the United States also transferred over 2,000 detainees with arrest warrants, detention orders or as convicted prisoners to the Government of Iraq, said Quantock.
Since September 2009, the 211th Military Police Battalion has played a key role in training and mentoring Iraqi Corrections Officers and staff at the Taji facility in reception and visitation operations; physical security and access control; and managing the vocational and technical training programs offered to the detainees. Training in agriculture, carpentry, masonry and HVAC repair were offered to detainees to afford them better economic opportunities upon their release.
Lt. Col. Richard Johnson, commander of the 211th Military Police Battalion, described the key role played by the battalion headquarters and its subordinate units, the 23rd Military Police Company of Fort Drum, N.Y., and C Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) of Fort Myer, Va.
“This really is a historic transition of authority. To the best of my knowledge I don’t believe that any Army has ever transferred an operational detention facility and detainees with detention orders under host nation rule of law. There have been lots of challenges but there are certainly some important lessons learned that will impact future Phase Five operations to stabilize and enable civil authority. We have played an important role in a key strategic objective for USF-I. Our soldiers understand that and are proud of their participation,” said Johnson.
The battalion will be responsible for the remaining external security transition training and contract oversight through the end of its deployment in mid-2010. A critical objective for the battalion is to facilitate key-leader engagement between the Iraqi Ministry of Justice and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in order for the Iraqi Corrections Service and the Iraqi Army to have a cooperative framework for long-term security of the facility.
“Only a small amount of training remains in order to conduct a responsible security transition for the exterior of the facility. U.S. forces will remain in an outside over-watch capacity for a short period to complete the final transition and facilitate the contract oversight,” said Maj. Brett P. Conaway, operations officer for the 211th.
The handover of the Taji TIFRC represents a critical stage in the drawdown of detainee operations in Iraq. Camp Bucca, once the largest detainee facility in Iraq, was closed in September 2009 and Camp Cropper, now the last remaining detention facility will be transferred to the Government of Iraq in July in accordance with the security agreement signed by Iraq and the United States in 2008.