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Tool Donation 
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Lt. Col. Richard Johnson (left), commander of the 211th Military Police Battalion, addresses the audience with the assistance of Bilingual-Bicultural Advisor Salah Al-Hindawy during a ceremony at the Taji Theater Internment Facility and Reconciliation Center, Jan. 15, 2010. The vocational and technical training program for detainees here, which is directly overseen by the 211th, received a donation of new tools from the Sunni Endowment of Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel C. Maes)
By Sgt. 1st Class Daniel C. Maes, 211th Military Police Battalion 

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – The job-skill training offered to detainees at the Taji Theater Internment Facility and Reconciliation Center got a boost with the addition of scores of new tools donated by the Sunni Endowment of Iraq, Jan. 15, 2010.

Sheik Ahmed Adbul Khafour al-Samara’e, head of the endowment, and Sheik Mahmoud Ali Ahmed al-Falahi, director of the endowment’s human rights office, visited Camp Taji to present the tools to Rear Adm. Lothrop Little, special assistant to the deputy commanding general for detainee operations. Also on hand to receive the gifts were Col. John M. Huey, commander of the 89th Military Police Brigade and Task Force Griffin and Lt. Col. Richard Johnson, commander of the 211th Military Police Battalion, which directly oversees the vocational and technical training provided to detainees at the Taji TIFRC.  Taji Warden Hassan Al-Mohammadawi of the Iraqi Corrections Service represented the Government of Iraq at the event.

“Thanks to Dr. Ahmed and the Sunni Endowment; their contribution of tools is going to allow the Ministry of Justice to train detainees for a better life in Iraq,” said Little.

During the ceremony, al-Samara’e extolled the virtues of hard work and articulated that the first step towards a better life for the detainees is to train and teach them job skills that they can use upon their release. He also pointed out the vocational training provided here is an effective way to prevent many of the detainees from returning to violence. He stated that he believed many who are responsible for violence in Iraq have not been afforded the opportunity to learn peaceful and productive job skills.

“Education and vocational training for detainees is a topic upon which there is total consensus among Americans and Iraqis, regardless of religious affiliation, politics, or ideology.  Providing detainees with improved literacy, job skills, and a positive self-image prior to release will enhance their prospects to successfully re-enter Iraqi society, support their families, support the rule of law, and avoid a return to violence,” said Lt. Col. Richard Johnson.

This is the second time in two months new tools have been donated to the TIFRC by the Sunni Endowment. The increased amount of tools, such as saws, hammers, rakes, shovels, drills, levels and screwdrivers, means more detainees will receive hands-on training in agriculture, carpentry, HVAC repair and masonry.

The presentation ceremony, which drew Iraqis and Americans together in their common cause, included displays focused on each of the subjects taught here, as well as finished products, including a full-size picnic table complete with a roof.

The viable job skills imparted to the detainees through the vocational and technical programs offered at the Taji TIFRC are designed to help them successfully reintegrate into Iraqi society. The significant security gains made throughout the country will allow Iraqis to focus on economic development and become part of Iraq’s growing and prosperous future.

The Soldiers of the 211th Military Police Battalion have worked earnestly to improve the job skills training programs here and ensure they are running efficiently upon the transfer of the TIFRC to the Government of Iraq in early spring of 2010.