Petraeus Discusses Future of Afghan Detainees

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Sept. 28, 2010 — The top U.S. com­man­der in Afghanistan toured the U.S. Deten­tion Facil­i­ty here yes­ter­day, and dis­cussed his vision for deten­tion oper­a­tions in Afghanistan.

Army Gen. David Petraeus, International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan commander, meets with an Afghan National Army soldier who works at the detention facility in Parwan, Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2010. The facility is operated by more than 100 Afghan soldiers and 1,200 military members from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps guard force, medical and legal support fields. More than 600 additional Afghan soldiers are being trained for their assumption of guard force responsibilities. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William A. O'Brien
Army Gen. David Petraeus, Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan com­man­der, meets with an Afghan Nation­al Army sol­dier who works at the deten­tion facil­i­ty in Par­wan, Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2010. The facil­i­ty is oper­at­ed by more than 100 Afghan sol­diers and 1,200 mil­i­tary mem­bers from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps guard force, med­ical and legal sup­port fields. More than 600 addi­tion­al Afghan sol­diers are being trained for their assump­tion of guard force respon­si­bil­i­ties.
U.S. Air Force pho­to by Senior Air­man William A. O’Brien
Click to enlarge

“When I took com­mand of Multi­na­tion­al Force-Iraq in Feb­ru­ary 2007, we still had Camp Buc­ca with 17,000 detainees at that time and it grew larg­er,” said Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, com­man­der, Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force and com­man­der, U.S. Forces Afghanistan. “We still had all of the detainees in huge enclo­sures. It was just fenced-in enclo­sures of about 800 to 900 detainees per enclo­sure. Obvi­ous­ly, we have come a long way since then.” 

Com­bined Joint Inter­a­gency Task Force-435, in part­ner­ship with the Gov­ern­ment of the Islam­ic Repub­lic of Afghanistan, and U.S. inter­a­gency and inter­na­tion­al part­ners, con­ducts oper­a­tions in deten­tion, cor­rec­tions, the judi­cial sec­tor and bio­met­rics. Next year the CJIATF will tran­si­tion deten­tion oper­a­tions to Afghan con­trol while part­ner­ing with Afghan author­i­ties to pro­mote rule of law practices. 

Petraeus said his team had imple­ment­ed job train­ing and reha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams, rou­tine detainee review boards, inte­gra­tion of host nation legal activ­i­ties, and shuras, or meet­ings, to get com­mu­ni­ties to re-embrace detainees when they were released. 

“All that began a good bit of what you see today,” said Petraeus, who was joined by his deputy com­man­der for deten­tion oper­a­tions, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Har­ward, com­man­der, Com­bined Joint Inter­a­gency Task Force-435. 

Petraeus said when he left Iraq and assumed com­mand of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand in 2008, one of his first acts was to send U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Dou­glas Stone to sur­vey the deten­tion oper­a­tions sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan. Now retired, Stone served as Petraeus’ deputy com­man­der for deten­tion oper­a­tions in Iraq. 

“He came back in the spring of 2009 and had a num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions — a num­ber of those have led to what you have seen right here,” said Petraeus. Parwan’s state-of-the-art the­ater intern­ment facil­i­ty opened in Decem­ber 2009. 

Petraeus said the focus was ini­tial­ly on detainee oper­a­tions, which, over time, expand­ed to train­ing Afghans to take on deten­tion facil­i­ty tasks. 

In Jan­u­ary 2010, Afghan gov­ern­ment offi­cials signed a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing that guides the process for the Afghan Min­istry of Defense to take the lead on assum­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for the Par­wan deten­tion facility. 

In the memo key min­istries agreed to iden­ti­fy and assign per­son­nel to staff the facil­i­ty, work­ing along­side Amer­i­can per­son­nel through the tran­si­tion process. Cur­rent­ly more than 160 Afghan sol­diers have com­plet­ed required train­ing and joined the 1,200 U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers who make up the guard force. Anoth­er 600 ANA sol­diers are cur­rent­ly in train­ing to join their Afghan and U.S. counterparts. 

The deten­tion facility’s design accom­mo­dates detainee rein­te­gra­tion efforts and enables CJIATF-435 to bet­ter align deten­tion oper­a­tions with the over­all strat­e­gy to defeat the extrem­ist insur­gency in Afghanistan. 

“This is about doing it right. And I real­ly mean that,” Petraeus said. “The fact is that what we want­ed to do was do it properly.” 

Dur­ing his tour of the deten­tion facil­i­ty, Petraeus received a brief­ing on detainee rein­te­gra­tion pro­grams and he also vis­it­ed the detainee agri­cul­ture train­ing area. Eli­gi­ble detainees at the facil­i­ty may par­tic­i­pate in lit­er­a­cy and edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams. Ear­li­er this year rein­te­gra­tion offi­cials at the deten­tion facil­i­ty imple­ment­ed voca­tion­al train­ing for eli­gi­ble detainees includ­ing bread mak­ing, agri­cul­ture and tailoring. 

Rein­te­gra­tion, under Petraeus’ coun­terin­sur­gency strat­e­gy, includes remov­ing Afghan fight­ers by bring­ing those will­ing to renounce vio­lence and accept the Afghan con­sti­tu­tion back into their com­mu­ni­ties with hon­or and dig­ni­ty. It is about cre­at­ing con­di­tions through com­mu­ni­ty-based pro­grams, pub­lic pro­tec­tion, and sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties so fight­ers have incen­tives to live peace­ful­ly and return to their communities. 

As part of ongo­ing efforts to eval­u­ate the effec­tive­ness of rein­te­gra­tion pro­grams, last week, Har­ward and CJIATF-435’s Afghan Deputy Com­man­der, Maj. Gen. Mar­jan Shu­ja, met with mem­bers of the Afghan gov­ern­ment, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and 22 for­mer detainees to dis­cuss rein­te­gra­tion suc­cess­es and chal­lenges for the released men. 

Petraeus said he has seen progress in the short time since the Par­wan deten­tion facil­i­ty opened and imple­ment­ed rein­te­gra­tion and reha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams for detainees. 

“The recidi­vism rates so far on those who have been released are very low indeed,” the gen­er­al said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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