New facility to help MPs learn detainee handling
Story by Scott Thompson/ Ft. Leavenworth Lamp
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Ks. (TRADOC News Service, August 18, 2006) -- When the 705th Military Police Battalion converted from a non-deployable unit to a deployable one and gained its internment and resettlement designation last fall, the need for a detainee training facility became apparent.
The options were limited - travel to Camp Charlie at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., to train or build a facility on Fort Leavenworth.
Nearly one year later, the latter has come to fruition. In September, units will begin training at a new internment/resettlement training facility in the quarry area near the Hunt Lodge.
The Fort Leavenworth facility was designed to mirror Camp Charlie, which opened in June. Both are modeled after Camp Bucca in Iraq.
"It will be a great training tool," said Lt. Col. Patrick Williams, commander of the 705th. "When the units deploy, it's critical to have a facility like this on post. It will be a great resource."
Maj. Ken Tauke, battalion executive officer, said the new facility will be useful in preparing Soldiers for internment/resettlement operations in real-world settings.
"The two best things this does is provide exposure to what they'll potentially see and it saves on travel time because we don't have to travel to another location," Tauke said.
Various activities and exercises will take place at the new training facility. Ensuring detainee accountability will be one of the staples of training.
"One of the key pieces for us is to ensure that our Soldiers can account for detainees properly - primarily the movements of detainees in and out of the camp and the location of them," Tauke said.
Soldiers will also receive instruction on a system called the Detainee Reporting System.
The system will be tested at the new facility, where mock detainees will be processed and tracked throughout the camp.
"That's really one of our critical tasks is the accountability," Tauke said. "And, of course, custody and control, and safe-guarding, not only of detainees, but also the security force that is providing security."
Detainee camps in general have unique problems, Tauke said. He added that the facility will provide a training ground that is unmatched by other facilities on post. In comparison, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks houses about 400 to 500 military inmates at a given time.
"The (detainee) population that we'll be apt to manage will be in the thousands," Tauke said, noting that in real camps, the ratio of detainees to Soldiers is much larger than the ratio of USDB inmates to correctional officers.
"The Soldiers that haven't been deployed haven't been exposed to the large numbers of detainees," Tauke said.
Inmates of the USDB live in cells. The detainees in the training facility will often live in tents.
Because detainees are not granted the same amenities that inmates are afforded, the facility is short on features. Detainee camps like the one the new facility patterns itself after provide everything the International Red Cross and Geneva Conventions require. The idea is to prepare deploying Soldiers for the issues, problems and environments they are going to encounter.
"There are similarities and differences," Tauke said. "There's a dichotomy that exists between the two. All the inmates, at least at one time, were in the military. They all predominantly speak English. Here we are going to a location where cultural norms are very different, you have language barriers and others that make it more difficult to work there."
Physically, the facility is rudimentary. An eight-foot-tall exterior chain-link fence, topped with barbed wire, comprises the perimeter. The interior consists of one building that will serve as a mock processing building. Surrounding it are three separate compounds, each cordoned off by barbed wire chain-link fence. Cement pads are now present within the compound. In time, tents will be set up on top of them.
Tauke said modifications and changes would most likely occur over time.
"There will be some minor modifications," Tauke said. "It's going to be a great facility and a great opportunity for Soldiers who haven't been exposed to that yet. It's one thing going through a brick wall. It's another thing working behind a chain-link fence."
One or more watch towers are on the early wish list. There are no individual cells within the complex. If needed, however, portable cells could be used to simulate a location like Guantanamo Bay.
"It is adaptable and I'm sure we will adapt it," Tauke said. "Depending on where we're going, we want to adapt it to the policies and procedures that we're actually going to utilize."
The 705th figures to get the most use out of the complex, however, the facility will be available to any unit performing internment/resettlement operations.
"I think the right term is sponsoring," Tauke said. "We sponsor them and assist them in their training plan. Once they get here, we assist them with travel and housing and lodging. We assist them so they can have a good training experience."