The 705th, currently assigned to the 49th MP Brigade Tactical Command Post, was instrumental in transferring the operations of the Taji Theater Internment Facility and Reconciliation Center to Iraqi control last March. The unit, whose mission is to conduct corrections operations in support of the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., contributed to the transfer of the U.S.-run internment facility, the Cropper TIF, to the Iraqi government this July.
The 705th deployed to Iraq in 2006 to support detention operations at Camp Bucca. While there, they developed strong relationships with the Iraqi Corrections Services. The Iraqi-U.S. relations fostered in 2006 enable them to accomplish their mission this time around.
When the 705th arrived at Camp Taji in 2009, it operated in a joint service environment with 2,600 service members, including Navy and Air Force personnel joining its ranks. According to Sgt. Maj. Christopher Sommerville, operations sergeant major for the 705th, the unit integrated the staff to overcome the language barrier between the services, and to build a common operating picture for everyone.
The unit’s major responsibility at Camp Taji was to run the TIFRC and to provide care, custody and control of the detainees.
“It was easy for the 705th to transition from its responsibilities by running the detention center in Taji. We drew from the experiences back home and implemented the same standards using the corrections-based model to improve the conditions in Iraq,” said Maj. Daniel Rempfer, executive officer for the 705th.
The 705th used their knowledge of corrections operations to refine a plan to help leaders evaluate the Iraqi Corrections Officers. The plan included progress reports that measured the duties and responsibilities involved in supporting detention operations. These reports significantly helped the ICS by identifying and correcting leadership weaknesses, thereby increasing workforce productivity and ensuring compliance with internationally recognized detainee standards.
Troops of the 705th also built relationships with their Iraqi partners to assist the ICS in taking control of the Taji TIFRC and helped them develop plans to maintain the facility’s operation.
“Our Soldiers built close relationships with the ICS staff to teach them about the daily operational concept of how to operate a prison,” said Maj. Daron Settles, 705th operations officer. He said they applied the Army’s “crawl, walk, run”method of training as they mentored the Iraqis.
“We stepped back, once we saw they could handle operations on their own,” Settles said.
Members of the ICS also received inmate behavior management training from the MPs of the 705th. The ICOs learned about the rehabilitation efforts applied in Kansas and helped implement a corrections-based reward system. This helped them understand behavior modification based on quid pro quo.
“Detainees who followed the rules were rewarded by being transferred to housing units with increased recreational opportunities. These rewards consisted of allowing them to watch TV, more recreational time and many other [privileges],” said Rempfer.
Like any detention facility, life support services are critical, and detainees at Taji received medical services by professionals dedicated to their care. Maj. Lara Nunez, the battalion’s surgeon, worked with the Iraqi Ministry of Health and brought their personnel into the medical clinic. She made medical recommendations, provided clinical guidelines for detainee healthcare and made sure all Army and U.S. federal regulations for medical care were followed.
Lt. Col. David Deadrich, 705th MP battalion commander, brought his background as the former deputy commandant of the Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas to the table. He provided guidance and direction to the ICS. Deadrich organized weekly meetings between ICS members and the International Criminal Investigation and Training Assistance Program, U.S. advisors with extensive experience operating jails. Deadrich also oversaw the logistical support for detainees and ICS supplies and put contracts in place to provide maintenance support for the facility after the transfer.
“We did everything we were supposed to by setting the conditions of long-term contracts to feed the detainee population, provide fuel for generators, and integrate ICO's into our operations,” said Deadrich.
In March, the 705th became the first unit in the Army to turn over a detention center and detainees to the GoI when the $107 million Taji TIFRC was successfully transferred to the Ministry of Justice.
Following the transfer, the battalion moved to Camp Cropper. The 49thMP Brigade Tactical Command Post is in charge of the Cropper TIF, the U.S.-operated detention center in Iraq. The 705th took on a brigade-sized mission in April as the command-and-control element for the 49thTactical Command Post, which is in charge of the Cropper Theater Internment Facility. The 705th now oversees the operations of three subordinate battalions and provides support to 3,000 service members.
The Cropper TIF is a multimillion dollar facility was transferred to the GoI on 15 July.
The 705th sets high standards in the business of detention operations and plans to return home later this summer to resume custody and control services at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks.
Because these detainees may eventually be released back into Iraqi neighborhoods, Deadrich said it is important for jail administrators to apply the corrections type model not only to provide care, custody and control of that population, but also to implement some sort of program to make their reconciliation possible.
“Providing a reconciliation program and treating the detainee or prisoner with dignity and respect will help him or her become a better contributor to society,” Deadrich concluded.