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Iraqi corrections officers train on maximum security policies, procedures

June 11, 2011

By Sgt. TJ Moller

For the past several months Iraqi corrections officers have been working hand-in-hand with U.S. correctional specialists in order to learn the policies and procedures of the Cropper Theater Internment Facility, which houses detainees who are linked to terrorism and could potentially harm security forces.

ICOs are selected to attend maximum security unit training based on their job performance, said Capt. Stacey N. Sears, officer-in-charge of future operations, 40th Military Police Battalion. “The ICOs who we are training now are the best of the best, the cream of the crop.”

“They are highly knowledgeable in their jobs and they are excited and proud that they will be working in a facility that is high not only on the radar of the [government of Iraq], but the world,” she said.

Although experts in their field, ICOs, both from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Interior, go through refresher training and additional training unique to the C-TIF.

The training covers rules of engagement, Geneva Convention, marksmanship, familiarization with a shotgun, weapons safety, familiarization with less than lethal rounds, and force extraction team training, said Staff Sgt. James A. Russell, training noncommissioned officer, 40th MP Bn. The training also covers deviant behaviors of detainees and how those behaviors can affect or manipulate staff members.

The week-long classroom training, followed by on-the-job training, is essential for handling the detainees safely and getting to know the routine of the facility.

“Familiarity of working a correctional facility lends to the efficiency of it working,” said Russell. “We are slowly working them into this particular type of facility, where the housing is set up a little bit differently and the security measures are definitely not what they are used to.”

“We are teaching the ICOs everything we know, said Spc. Christopher A. Huling, an internment resettlement specialist with the 40th MP Bn., who has been working one-on-one with the ICOs. “Showing them how we run the operation here and telling them why we do what we do; they are learning as they go, and they are doing just fine.”

“The training is pretty easy to understand and we already have everything down from day one,” said Sgt. Hassan Mani, an Iraqi correctional officer. “As far as pushing chow to the detainees and doing the head counts on the detainees, it is not difficult. We are familiar with the way things are done.”

“I’m excited and curious to see how things will evolve over the next few months,” said Russell. “We are now starting to get larger groups graduating through courses and passing our security measures. We can start training more of them inside the compound.”

The ICOs are currently working the facility in shifts. There are times when there are no ICOs, but as more are trained, ICOs will be on every shift, every day, until the facility is turned over.

Cooperative training like this, as long as it is conducted properly and done with true intentions, can achieve positive results, said Russell.

“When the Iraqis see the Soldiers out there working, they start to emulate and internalize it,” said Sears. “When we do the handover, they will be able to maintain it at that level and do an excellent job.”

“The end game result is for us to leave here knowing that we gave them the best training we could and gave them all the supplies and tools that they need to maintain this facility after we have picked up and left,” said Russell.

With several more cycles of training to go, the Soldiers of the 40th MP Bn. are prepared to teach the already proficient Iraqi correctional officers everything they need to know to be successful.

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