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Appendix I
Planning for Detainee Operations and Field Processing of Detainees


I-1. The purpose of this appendix is to provide some planning considerations for conducting detainee operations and to provide information to assist the capturing unit in the field processing of detainees.


I-2. While local government officials will detain certain individuals because of suspected criminal activity or for security purposes, there will be times, when U.S, forces will capture and detain individuals who may pose a threat to US personnel and interests. The act of capturing a detainee is only the first step in a lengthy and highly sensitive process.

I-3. Detainee is a term used to refer to any person captured or otherwise detained by an armed force (JP 1-02). AR 190-8, FM 3-19.40, and, international law (including the law of war and the Geneva Conventions) address policy, procedures, and responsibilities for the administration, treatment, protection, security, and transfer of custody of detainees. These publications provide other planning factors and the regulatory and legal requirements concerning detainees.

I-4. Detaining personnel carries with it the responsibility to guard, protect, and account for them. All persons captured, detained, interned, or otherwise held in US armed forces custody are given humane care and treatment from the moment they fall into the hands of US forces until final release or repatriation. The inhumane treatment of detainees is prohibited and is not justified by the stress of combat or by deep provocation. Inhumane treatment is a serious and punishable violation under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and international law.

I-5. The two Geneva Conventions most likely to be employed in detainee operations are the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoner of War, 12 August 1949 (GPW), and Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Person in Time of War, 12 August 1949 (GC). Most detainees will usually be civilians, and a very few will qualify as EPW.


I-6. Detainee operations are resource intensive and highly sensitive. Holding detainees longer than a few hours requires detailed planning to address the extensive requirements of the Geneva Conventions for proper administration, treatment, protection, security, and transfer of custody of detainees. If commanders anticipate holding detainees at the division level or lower (as opposed to expeditiously evacuating them to a detention facility), they should consider--

  • Including internment/resettlement military police units in their task organization. Internment/resettlement units are specifically trained and resourced to conduct detainee operations for extended periods.
  • Ensuring clear delineation of the interdependent and independent roles of those Soldiers responsible for custody of the detainees and those responsible for any interrogation mission.
  • Additional resources necessary to provide detainees the extensive logistic and medical support required by regulation and law.


I-7. Processing begins when US forces capture or detain an individual. Field processing is accomplished in the combat zone and aids in security, control, initial information collection, and in providing for the welfare of detainees.

I-8. The unit detaining an individual is responsible for guarding and safeguarding a detainee until relieved. Capturing units field process detainees using the STRESS method outlined in Table I-1.

Table I-1. STRESS Method of Detainee Field Processing
Action Description
Search Search each captive for weapons and ammunition, items of intelligence value, and other inappropriate items that would make escape easier or compromise US security interests. Confiscate these items. Prepare a receipt when taking property from a detainee. Ensure that both the detainee and the receiving Soldier sign the receipt (such as DA Form 4137). Consider bundling a detainee's property or placing it in bags to keep each detainee's property intact and separate. Maintain a strict chain of custody for all items taken from the detainee. Ensure that a receipt is obtained for any items you release to anyone.

Note: When possible, conduct same gender searches; however, this may not always be possible due to speed and security considerations. Therefore, perform mixed gender searches in a respectful manner using all possible measures to prevent any action that could be interpreted as sexual molestation or assault. The on-site supervisor must carefully control Soldiers doing mixed gender searches to prevent allegations of sexual misconduct.

Captives may keep the following items found in a search:

  • Protective clothing and equipment (such as helmets, protective masks and clothing) for use during evacuation from the combat zone.
  • Retained property, such as identification cards or tags, personal property having no intelligence value, clothing, mess equipment (except knives and forks), badges of rank and nationality, decorations, religious literature, jewelry, and articles that have sentimental value.
  • Private rations of the detainee.

Personal items, such as diaries, letters from home, and family pictures may be taken by MI teams for review, but are later returned to the proper owner.

Confiscate currency only on the order of a commissioned officer (AR 190-8) and this must be receipted using DA Form 4137.

Tag Use DD Form 2745 or a field expedient alternative and include at a minimum the following information:
  • Date and time of the capture.
  • Location of the capture (grid coordinates).
  • Capturing unit.
  • Special circumstances of capture (for example, how the detainee was captured, did he resist, was he armed, and so forth).
  • List all documents and items of significance found on the detainee at time of capture.

DD Form 2745 is a perforated, three-part form containing an individual serial number. It is constructed of durable, waterproof, tear-resistant material with reinforced eyeholes at the top of Parts A and C. Attach Part A to the captive with wire, string, or another type of durable material. Instruct the captive not to remove or alter the tag. Maintain Part B and attach Part C to the confiscated property so the owner may be identified later.

Report Report number and category of detainees (see AR 190-8) to higher headquarters and initiate coordination for transportation of detainees to a collection point.
Evacuate Evacuate captives from the battlefield as quickly as possible. Evacuate detainees normally to a collection point where military police take custody of the detainees. Deliver to the collection point all documents and other property captured with the detainees. Seriously wounded or ill detainees must be taken to the nearest medical-aid station for treatment and evacuation through medical channels.
Segregate Segregate detainees based on perceived status and positions of authority. Segregate leaders from the remainder of the population. For their protection, normally segregate minor and female detainees from adult male detainees.
Safeguard Safeguard the captives according to the Geneva Conventions and US policy. Ensure detainees are provided adequate food, potable water, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Ensure detainees are not exposed to unnecessary danger and are protected (afforded the same protective measures as the capturing force) while awaiting evacuation. Do not use coercion to obtain information from the captives. Report acts or allegations of abuse through command channels and to the supporting judge advocate and to the US Army Criminal Investigation Command. Detainees should be afforded the same measure of protection as the detaining power. The Geneva Conventions, international law, and US policy expressly prohibit acts of violence or intimidation, including physical or mental torture, threats, insults, or exposure to inhumane treatment. Physical or mental torture and coercion revolve around eliminating the source's free will and are expressly prohibited. Torture is defined as the infliction of intense pain to body or mind to extract a confession or information, or for sadistic pleasure, and is prohibited Coercion is defined as actions designed to unlawfully induce another to compel an act against one's will.

I-9. HUMINT collectors may arrange with the military police leadership or leadership of other Soldiers maintaining custody of the detainees to debrief these Soldiers, since they are in regular contact with the detainees. The Soldiers should be debriefed so as not to interfere with the interrogation process. These Soldiers are there only to maintain security. Military police or other Soldiers responsible for custody of detainees will not in any circumstances prepare detainees for interrogation by any physical or mental means (such as beatings or humiliating techniques). If military police or other Soldiers are approached by any military, civilian, or contract personnel to assist in preparing detainees for interrogation they will inform their chain of command immediately.

I-10. Units should also consider that embedded media, combat camera, public affairs, CA, and PSYOP personnel might accompany them on a mission. Leaders must strictly enforce policies on photography of detainees, public release of information, and international law. Photographing, filming, and videotaping of detainees for purposes other than internal internment facility administration or intelligence/counterintelligence are strictly prohibited.


I-11. Clearly documenting the details surrounding the initial detention and preserving evidence are critical and aid in determining if further detention is warranted, in classifying the detainee, in developing intelligence, and in prosecuting detainees suspected of committing criminal acts. Documentation should be detailed and answer the six Ws--who, what, when, where, why, and witnesses. Record these details on the DD Form 2745, DA Form 2823, DA Form 4137, and locally developed forms if necessary. As a minimum document the following information--

  • Full name, rank, and unit of the Soldier or other person who affected the detention.
  • Location and circumstances surrounding the initial detention. Include 8- to 10-digit grid coordinates and any further descriptive information, such as a road intersection or street address. Explain why the person was detained. In describing circumstances include any possible criminal violations or a description of hostile acts. State what force was required to detain the person.
  • Provide a thorough description of the detainee. Include name and full description (height, weight, eye color, hair color, race or ethnicity, gender, date of birth, phone number, residence address, identification type and number, and any identifying marks, such as scars or tattoos). Indicate and describe injuries. Explain how injuries occurred. Indicate how the person being detained was traveling
  • Provide a thorough description of victims and witnesses. Record the same descriptive information as recorded for the detainee for anyone who witnessed the detention or the reason for detention. Indicate if the individuals are witnesses or victims. Take statements from these individuals to document their observations and knowledge of the incident. Indicate if any of these individuals were traveling with or in any way associated with the detainee.
  • Record descriptive information for all vehicles or other equipment related to the detention. For motor vehicles, include make, model, year, color, type, license plate number, owner, and the number and thorough description of occupants. Indicate if contraband was found in the vehicle.
  • Thorough description of any contraband, including weapons. Include serial numbers, brand names, types, calibers, quantity, color, size, where found, and owners name and complete description. Record where the contraband was located (for example, rocket propelled grenade optical sight found in a plastic bag under the driver's seat of vehicle #1). Ensure all seized items are recorded on a DA Form 4137 and that a chain of custody is maintained as property is transferred. Note the disposition of contraband (for example, IED was destroyed on location by explosive ordnance detachment Soldiers; or rocket propelled grenade optical sight was released to SGT John Smith, 123d Military Intelligence Detachment).
  • Full name, rank, unit or organization, phone number, and any other contact information for any interpreter or other person, such as civil authority, present during the detention.
  • Any information the detainee volunteers.


I-12. Army military police Soldiers train on all aspects of detainee operations. Soldiers holding MOS 31E, Internment/Resettlement Specialist, specialize in detainee operations. Consider including 31E Soldiers in the task organization for a mission likely to result in detaining personnel.

I-13. Commanders should consider including interpreters or linguists to support the operation.


I-14. The following items may be helpful in searching and securing detainees, safeguarding their property, and ensuring the safety of Soldiers:

  • Plastic bags of various sizes may be used to segregate, store, and protect a detainee's property, including property of potential evidentiary or intelligence value.
  • Permanent markers may be used to annotate identifying information on containers of detainee property.
  • Sandbags may be used to segregate, store, and protect a detainee's property, including property of potential intelligence value.
  • Duct tape or 550 cord may be used to restrain detainees and to secure bags containing property.
  • Socks may be used to segregate, store, and protect a detainee's property, including property of potential intelligence value.
  • Latex or rubber gloves should be provided to Soldiers to protect them while searching and processing detainees and their property.
  • Flexi-cuffs may be used to restrain detainees.
  • Flexi-cuff cutters should be used to cut flexi-cuffs. Do not use knives, scissors, or other cutting devices. Flexi-cuff cutters are specifically designed to prevent injury to the detainee and the Soldier removing the flexi-cuffs.
  • Bandanas, bandages, or other cloth may be used to blindfold or gag detainees when necessary. Uncooperative captives may require a gag in certain situations; however, gags should be used for only as long as needed and should not harm the individual.
  • Goggles with lenses blackened are the preferred means of blindfolding a detainee.


I-15. A few basic references and forms are necessary in ensuring maintenance of required information about the detainees, accountability of their property, and compliance with requirements for proper treatment of detainees. The most important of these items are DD Form 2745, DA Form 4137, and AR 190-8.


I-16. Field expedient restraints include flexi-cuffs, duct tape, parachute cord, and other items necessary to temporarily restrain detainees for force protection, custody and control, and movement. When possible, place detainees into restraints prior to searching or moving them. The following considerations are provided:

I-17. Employ field expedient restraints on detainees in a manner that is safe, secure, humane, and professional. With all restraint types, use the following guidance:

  • Exercise caution in cases where detainees are gagged and/or hooded. Field expedient measures, when required, may impair a detainee's ability to breathe. Sandbags used as hoods restrict airflow, use them only as a last resort. In some areas of the world, using the detainees' own headgear as a hood device is ideal, for example, turbans or burqas. A hooded detainee may experience difficulty in maintaining balance while walking.
  • Ensure blood flow is not restricted by restraints. Monitor detainees after restraints are applied. Check for discoloration of skin, which is one indication that the restraints are too tight.
  • Employment of restraints.
    • Flexi-cuffs (national stock number 8465-0007-2673) are a plastic band with a self-locking mechanism. When threaded, the restraint band extends around the wrists or ankles to secure the individual. Use two flexi-cuffs to secure the arms of each detainee, if enough are available. If supply is limited, one flexi-cuff may be used.
    • Wrap 550 cord around the wrists or ankles several times and then wrap the cord between the wrists or ankles to help prevent loosening. Tie the ends of the cord using a knot such as the square knot. Ensure blood flow is not restricted.
    • Use duct tape in a manner similar to the flexi-cuffs or 550 cord. Exercise caution not to restrict blood flow. Use good judgment as to the number of times to wrap the tape based on the detainee's strength and size and the width of the tape.

I-18. The preferred method of restraint is arms behind the back with palms facing away from each other. If injury prevents this technique, bind the detainee's wrists in the front with palms together. Injuries such as upper body wounds or broken arms may make this the best option.

I-19. Do not use restraints to inflict punishment, injury, or unnecessary physical discomfort.

I-20. When detainees must be secured to a fixed object, do so only for the minimum time necessary and in a manner that does not risk injuring the detainee.

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