DoD, Army Make Improvements in Detainee Processes
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 10, 2005 The Army and DoD have made significant improvements in doctrine and training, policy and force structure in areas that deal with processing, confining and interrogating detainees, several defense and military officials said today.
To mark the release today of the 10th major investigation into DoD's handling of detainees, the officials briefed media representatives at the Pentagon on steps that have been taken to improve the process.
Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III, the director of the Navy staff, conducted a major review of issues dealing with interrogating detainees at the behest of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. DoD released an unclassified summary of Church's report today, and the admiral briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on his findings this morning.
At the afternoon Pentagon briefing, Church said his investigation was "thorough" and "exhaustive," and he said his work on the project solidified for him the value of human intelligence in advancing the war on terrorism.
"The overwhelming majority of our servicemembers have served honorably under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions," the admiral said.
"The vast majority of detainees have been treated humanely and appropriately, he added. "In those few instances where they weren't, it's been investigated."
Matthew Waxman, DoD's deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs, said Church's report and those leading up to it have resulted in 400 specific recommendations to improve detainee handling within DoD. Many of these, he said, have already been implemented.
"We recognize that policy, doctrine and organization must change, and that we require tactics, techniques and procedures that are effective in the current operational environment," Waxman said. "We have a process in place to formally address every recommendation of each major report, investigation or inspection."
Col. Pete Champagne, the Army's deputy provost marshal, said he believes the media's focus on instances of detainee abuse overshadows servicemembers' efforts.
"The servicemen and women who committed ... abuses are certainly not characteristic of the great majority (who) serve with distinction and honor every day in the cause of freedom," he said.
The Army, which has responsibility for detainee handling within DoD, has done many things to revamp its policies and procedures dealing with detainees.
The service has clarified its policy on the relationship between military police and military intelligence assets and is revising Army Regulation 190-8, which lays out the role of military police officers.
For example, Champagne said, MPs do not participate in interrogations, but the existing regulation is not clear on that point. The new one will be, he said.
The Army has also changed the way it processes reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross and is implementing lessons learned from the war on terror into training for all soldiers. Champagne said training for all soldiers, not just MPs, will have more of a focus on values, ethics, leadership, the law of war and the Geneva Conventions.
In addition, Champagne said, the Army is expanding its doctrine on interrogations to "to take into consideration ... how our enemy is adapting" to U.S. techniques and procedures.
It's also adding MP force structure. For instance, Champagne said, the military has decreased the guard-to-detainee ratio at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison from 1-to-75 to 1-to-8. "That's a significant improvement," he said.
Tom Gandy, the Army's director of human intelligence, said the service has improved oversight and monitoring of interrogations, and is synchronizing doctrine between the joint and Army-specific arenas.
Intelligence specialists are receiving additional training on how MPs and MI soldiers work together. "MI and MPs must work together," he said, "but can't assume each others' functions."
MI soldiers are also learning multiple paths to report improper techniques.
During the briefing, Church dismissed the suggestion that his report is a "whitewash."
"I don't believe anybody can call this a whitewash," he said. "The facts are what the facts are."
Noting that he was the Navy's inspector general when tasked to begin his review, the admiral said he was an independent investigator.
"So my sense is that anybody who's unhappy with the report ... is unhappy with the results.