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800th Military Police Brigade (EPW) (USAR)

The 800th Military Police Brigade consists of a brigade staff plus subordinate battalions. Each battalion consists of subordinate MP companies. As a subordinate unit of the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC), the unit had command and control of theater-level EPW operations. Those responsibilities included processing, accounting for and safeguarding enemy prisoners of war in strict accordance to the Geneva Convention. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Brigade was responsible for almost 7,000 enemy prisoners of war (EPWs).

The 800th MP Brigade officially took command of the British EPW Holding Area Freddy April 7. The brigade renamed the camp after Ronald Bucca, a New York City fire marshal who perished in the 9/11 tragedy. The ICRC was present to observe operations and monitor care of EPWs.

The brigade was tasked in June to Coalition Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7), to assume the responsibility of caring for prisoners in the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) zone, V Corps holding area and the high value detainee area near Baghdad. In addition, the 800th MPs will assist the Office of Coalition Provisional Authority (OCPA) in establishing a new Iraqi corrections system.

The unit's subordinate battalions began this mission in several corrections facilities around the country. While the brigade takes over the day-to-day operations of the facilities, OCPA will hire local contractors and private companies to fix the standing prison buildings and hire prison guards.

The legacy of the 800th MP Brigade received a dark stain of shame when the commander Brigadier General Janis Karpinski and members of the 372nd MP Company were found to have been either participants in or complicit with the egregious abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Gharib in 2003. Janis Karpinski was subsequently demoted to Colonel and some members of the 372nd have been imprisoned.

The brigade will work toward training the Iraqi Police Force (IPF) through the OCPA to allow them to take over their own prison system. The desired end state is to turn over the facilities to Iraqis under international observation Throughout the new mission, the brigade will continue to run EPW operations at its established facilities, Camp Bucca and TSP Whitford.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 800th MP Brigade was originally task organized with eight MP(I/R) Battalions consisting of both MP Guard and Combat Support companies. Due to force rotation plans, the 800th redeployed two Battalion HHCs in December 2003, the 115th MP Battalion and the 324th MP Battalion. In December 2003, the 400th MP Battalion was relieved of its mission and redeployed in January 2004. The 724th MP Battalion redeployed on 11 February 2004 and the remainder scheduled to redeploy in March and April 2004. They are the 310th MP Battalion, 320th MP Battalion, 530th MP Battalion, and 744th MP Battalion. The units that remained were generally understrength, as Reserve Component units do not have an individual personnel replacement system to mitigate medical losses or the departure of individual Soldiers that have reached 24 months of Federal active duty in a five-year period.

The 800th MP Brigade was an Iraq Theater asset, TACON to CJTF-7, but OPCON to CFLCC at the time this investigation was initiated. In addition, CJTF-7 had several reports of detainee escapes from US/Coalition Confinement Facilities in Iraq over the past several months. These include Camp Bucca, Camp Ashraf, Abu Ghraib, and the High Value Detainee (HVD) Complex/Camp Cropper. The 800th MP Brigade operated these facilities.

Initially members of the 800th MP Brigade believed they would be allowed to go home when all the detainees were released from the Camp Bucca Theater Internment Facility following the cessation of major ground combat on 1 May 2003. At one point, approximately 7,000 to 8,000 detainees were held at Camp Bucca. Through Article-5 Tribunals and a screening process, several thousand detainees were released. Many in the command believed they would go home when the detainees were released. In late May-early June 2003 the 800th MP Brigade was given a new mission to manage the Iraqi penal system and several detention centers. This new mission meant Soldiers would not redeploy to CONUS when anticipated. Morale suffered, and over the next few months there did not appear to have been any attempt by the Command to mitigate this morale problem.

Reserve Component units do not have an individual replacement system to mitigate medical or other losses. Over time, the 800th MP Brigade clearly suffered from personnel shortages through release from active duty (REFRAD) actions, medical evacuation, and demobilization. In addition to being severely undermanned, the quality of life for Soldiers assigned to Abu Ghraib (BCCF) was extremely poor. There was no DFAC, PX, barbershop, or MWR facilities. There were numerous mortar attacks, random rifle and RPG attacks, and a serious threat to Soldiers and detainees in the facility. The prison complex was also severely overcrowded and the Brigade lacked adequate resources and personnel to resolve serious logistical problems.

The unit's patch is distinctive. It is shaped like an ax-head with a sword encased in an oak leaf. The ax-head denotes authority and security; the sword stands for duty, military strength and law enforcement; and the oak leaf symbolizes the oak trees at Fort Ord, California, where the unit was first activated.

Organized on May 31, 1942 as the 800th Military Police Battalion it was quickly activated to support combat operations during World War II. The 800th saw action in two campaigns: New Guinea and Luzon. On April 16, 1986, the unit was re-designated as the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 800th Military Police Brigade (EPW).

A Brigadier General commands the 800th Military Police Brigade. The Brigade is comprised of approximately 1,700 soldiers spread over a two-state region. Subordinate elements are comprised of 25 units. Three of these units are subordinate peacetime battalions, one being military intelligence and two being military police. All three are located in New York. Six of these units are designated as Force Support Package (FSP). Additionally, the Brigade is comprised of four military intelligence detachments, a criminal investigation's detachment and three chemical companies. The specially trained military police and military intelligence units are designed to support the enemy prisoner of war mission that the Brigade assumed in April of 1986. When called into action, the Brigade is responsible for the command and control of Enemy Prisoner of War (EPW) Headquarters; and provides guidance, plans and procedures for EPW operations and doctrine for 14 wartrace battalions and subordinate units composed of over 4000 personnel.

On December 6, 1990, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Brigade were activated in support of Operation Desert Storm. The Brigade Headquarters assumed the mission of command and control of allied enemy prisoner of war operations in the theatre of operations from December 1990 to June 1991. While in Saudi Arabia, the Brigade's assigned strength was over 7,300 personnel from 68 subordinate units. The 800th Military Police Brigade was responsible for the command, control and accounting of over 70,000 Iraqi allied enemy prisoners of war.

Desert Storm showed many how efficient the Army is in for processing enemy prisoners of war. For two weeks, military police units conducting their annual Training at Fort Dix had the capability to process nearly twice as many mock POWs as during the start of the war in the Persian Gulf. Nearly 800 military police officers from two Regional Support Commands and the Maryland Army National Guard set up and operated two internment facilities and a corps level internment operation for Platinum Sword 2000 during June 2000. Before the troops were unleashed to the field many of them also participated in the 77th RSC's 800th Military Police Brigade's Simulation Exercise hosted by the 78th Division Battle Projection Group. Many of the soldiers found themselves participating in the exercise in the field while 48 of the most experienced military-some of whom served in the Gulf War or other contingency operations-helped prepare participating soldiers in the event of a real world mission in Southwest Asia. Other units that participated in the exercise were; 77th RSCs 306th Battalion, 455th MP Detachment, and the 310th Military Police Battalion. The 99th RSC's 320th, 400th, 744th MP battalions, 367th, 443rd companies, 424th Detachment, and the 115th MP Company, Maryland Army National Guard also participated.

The 800th Military Police Brigade is a major subordinate command of the 77th Regional Support Command, headquartered at Ft. Totten, New York, Jr.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:32:27 ZULU