Army Ensuring Improvements to Detention Operations
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 4, 2004 While investigations continue into charges of prisoner abuse at U.S. military detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, steps are already being taken to ensure that those in custody are treated "with dignity, respect and humanity," the Army vice chief of staff told Pentagon reporters today.
Gen. George Casey said Army Criminal Investigation Command investigations are continuing in 20 allegations of detainee misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan reported since December 2002. Of these, 10 cases involve prisoner deaths and 10 involve charges of abuse, assault or other mistreatment.
So far, six soldiers two sergeants and four junior enlisted troops face courts martial for criminal misconduct at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Six more soldiers have received letters of reprimand, including a battalion commander and battalion operations sergeant major who were immediately relieved of duty, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld reported today.
No charges have yet been filed against military intelligence soldiers who may have been involved in the incidents, Casey said, pending the outcome of a "Procedure 15" investigation that involves misconduct during intelligence activities.
Casey called "the inhumane treatment of Iraqi detainees" at the prison "a complete breakdown in discipline" and said the Army is taking active steps to prevent such a breakdown from happening again.
Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Miller assumed responsibility for all detainee operations in Iraq April 15, and the Abu Ghraib prison also has new leadership -- Col. David Quantock, commander of the 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne), and Col. Foster Payne, commander of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, Casey said.
All new units reporting for duty at detention facilities now receive added training on the Geneva Conventions and rules of engagements. And a mobile training team of corrections and legal experts is helping train soldiers in confinement operations to improve the quality of the operations at these facilities, he said.
In addition, three new active-duty military police units will increase the Army's capability to conduct detainee operations, he said. Casey said the units will transfer from the reserve component as part of the Army's internal reorganization.
Casey said a complete assessment of the Army's internment, detention and interrogation policies, practices and procedures is expected to be completed later this month. The assessment, directed by Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee, will provide a "holistic look at detainee operations across the Army," he said.
Lessons learned from prisoner abuse cases and investigations associated with them will be "internalized into the way we do business," Casey said. The Army will incorporate these lessons into its doctrine and is already sharing them with combat training centers that prepare soldiers for deployment to Iraq, he explained.
Casey stressed that commanders will continue to investigate all allegations of detainee mistreatment and take appropriate action as required. "We in the Army are committed to treating all persons with dignity, respect and humanity," he said. "All our soldiers recognize that they have a moral and legal obligation to provide humane treatment to the personnel in our custody. We expect no less."