Detainee Operations in Afghanistan - DoD Roundtable
U.S. Navy Vice. Adm. Robert S. Harward, commander of Joint Task (JTF) Force 435 located in Kabul, Afghanistan spoke to the DoD Bloggers Roundtable and answered questions concerning Detainee Operations in Afghanistan. JTF 435 was established by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on September 18 to assume responsibility for detainee operations in Afghanistan. The admiral arrived in Afghanistan in November and the Joint Task Force stood up on 7 January 2010!
The Task Force provides oversight of detainee review processes, programs for the peaceful reintegration of detainees into society, and coordination with other agencies and partners for the promotion of the rule of law in Afghanistan. The TF is leading the effort for a successful transition from US control of detainee operations to Afghan control which is a goal of Afghan President Karzai. They have developed a one year plan to transfer all detainee responsibility to the Ministry of Defense and Admiral Harward said he was “optimistic” that they would meet that timeline. In addition, he said the transition would later include transitioning the detainee program to the Afghan Ministry of Justice which would take more time.
The US is providing training, facilities and funding for the Afghan detainee program. One challenge for the Afghans has been to differentiate between criminals, hard line insurgents/jihadists and “accidental guerillas”. The new facilities and training will allow the Afghans to separate prisoners and provide appropriate prisoner education and reviews for release. The Department of Justice and Department of State and contractors under their purview have begun programs to help the Afghans as well. The admiral said the new combined system will allow a pipeline for training of corrections officers, barracks for guards and Afghan input into detainees. He shared a success story as well! The US has detained 3,000 prisoners and only 7 have been identified as returning to the battlefield. When queried by a blogger about access to the Red Cross he said “all prisoners under his command had access to the Red Cross”.
The Task Force is using lessons learned from Iraq, partnering with Afghan leaders and sending the right story is the challenge! The Admiral said he wants to get out the facts and begin “aligning perceptions with reality”. Thank for taking the time sir to help us better understand the new detainee program.
To see more articles on Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom please go to our Index of Articles on MilitaryAvenue.com which are chronological with the most current on top!
To listen to the Roundtable please go to DoDLive!
Photo Credit: 0930 100107-N-8273J-315 KABUL, Afghanistan (Jan. 7, 2010) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead, middle, and Rear Adm. Mark Handley, commander of 1st Naval Construction Division, right, meet with Vice Adm. Robert Harward, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) 435, left, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Roughead visited the Central Command area of responsibility to get a first hand look at the efforts in Afghanistan, meet with senior leadership and visit with Sailors and Marines in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst/Released)