FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq- A detainee release program in Kirkuk City, Iraq, which began in March in accordance with the Strategic Framework and Security Agreement between the Government of Iraq and U.S. forces, has resulted in the release of 165 detainees at Forward Operating Base Warrior, Kirkuk.

Members of the provincial council have taken responsibility for all released detainees and have begun programs to help them successfully reintegrate into society, said Capt. Erin Barrett, the provost marshal for 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

"This was huge because the Government of Iraq is taking ownership of the issue, which is what we wanted," said Barrett.

The provincial council has been very proactive in the program and has helped many of the released detainees find employment, he added. Most of the former detainees have found work within the communities they once lived.

"Non-governmental organizations have been working in Kirkuk to establish programs such as vocational schools and civil service jobs to help them become part of society once again," said Muhammed Khalil Al Nibouri, a member of the city council.

"We want to give them [former detainees] jobs and a means of survival," Al Nibouri said.

"They look at this as a humanitarian issue, not a political issue," explained Barrett. "This program has been a unifying factor amongst the council members, because they are all eager to help detainees, no matter their ethnicity."

The success of this program is very dependent on more than just the provincial council, Barrett said.

"It's only going to be as successful as the community allows it to be," she said. "It's about the community embracing them, about helping them find jobs and being supportive even though they have a criminal background."

Fortunately, the provincial council has been in close contact with these communities to help them understand the importance of reintegrating these former detainees, she said.

Detainees will continue to be released from FOB Warrior in the coming months, and the government in the area is committed to helping them, said Nibouri.

Iraqi Police in the area have also established a program to check up on the detainees, explained Barrett. The IP go out to the villages or have the detainees come and talk to them and account for the week in order to ensure they are staying out of trouble.

Page last updated Thu September 10th, 2009 at 13:46