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Army leaders condemn detainee abuse in congressional testimony

Army News Service

Release Date: 5/10/2004

By Joe Burlas

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 10, 2004) -- The alleged detainee abuse by some 320th Military Police Battalion guards at the Abu Ghraib prison is not as wide spread as some believe, according to initial findings of an investigation into that abuse, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker recently told congressmen.

Schoomaker and acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee joined Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers in discussing the alleged detainee abuse with members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees during separate committee meetings May 7.

Referring to the investigation conducted in February by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, deputy commanding general for Support, Coalition Forces Land Component Command, into the specifics of the alleged detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib -- and to see if similar abuse may be occurring elsewhere in Iraq -- Schoomaker said the Taguba Report praised three MP battalions in Iraq for doing the detainee job right with similar missions and under similar circumstances as the 320th MP Battalion.

Though not in the operational chain of command of the MPs accused of detainee abuse, Schoomaker said he still took the incidents personally as he is responsible for providing combatant commanders trained and ready forces.

"There is no question that the potential consequences of this incident are huge, but we must not forget that they are not representative of the Army or that they are the acts of a few," Schoomaker said.

He said the Army is taking the incident very seriously, but the system will work to punish those responsible, and the Army will learn and adapt from what it learns.

Asked if Army Reserve unit improperly training led to the situation at Abu Ghraib, Schoomaker replied that the Army has only one standard for all units, whether they are Reserve, National Guard and active forces.

Brownlee told the committees that preliminary investigations show that the vast majority of Soldiers within CENTCOM are fully aware of their responsibilities to treat detainees humanely and live up to Army values.

"We will find how and why this happened, and will ensure those responsible for these shameful and illegal acts are held accountable," Brownlee said.

The secretary listed some actions that Army has already taken to ensure similar incidents do not occur:

--Refresher training on the Law of Land Warfare and the responsibilities of the Geneva and Hague Conventions with special emphasis on the handling of prisoners and other detainees has been given to all MP and military intelligence Soldiers who are involved with detainee operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

--All deploying Army Reserve MI Soldiers are mobilized at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., so that they get the most current instruction on their responsibilities prior to deployment.

--Mobile MP training teams have been sent to all 10 combat training centers to ensure the detainee instruction is part of advanced individual training and other courses.

--Lessons learned from complete and ongoing investigations are being distributed to the Army's National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La., and the Combat Maneuver Training Center in Germany, so that appropriate detainee scenarios can test units in detainee operations prior to deployment.

The alleged abuse is in sharp contrast to vast majority of Soldiers who are serving honorably and well in more than 120 countries across the globe, Brownlee said.

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