The United States Forces - Iraq Provost Marshal Office turned over about 100 vehicles to the Iraqi Corrections Service, a department within the Iraqi Ministry of Justice, here March 12.

The vehicles, ranging in size from a motorized utility cart to small busses, were once used for USF-I detention operations, and are now to be used by the Iraqis for prisoner transport, security and other prison operations.

As the PMO accessed a number of their prisons around Iraq, it was evident that the ICS was deficient in a number of different areas, said Maj. Gen. Jerry Cannon, deputy commanding general for detention operations and provost marshal general, USF-I. "There really isn't much we can do - we can advise, train and assist till the cows come home, but if they don't have the equipment to do these things, we find ourselves up against the wall."

The vehicles are just the first step in the process of handovers that are to come from the partnership efforts between the PMO to the ICS. There are plans to handover more items as USF-I assists the ICS develop and maintain their warehouses and supply chain distribution capabilities.

A lot of "extra stuff" that is no longer needed, has been amassed and consolidated here, said Cannon, a Michigan Army National Guardsman. "We have 22 more [shipping containers] of prison supplies and more to turn over." This would occur once the distribution channels are ready to go.

Oversight for the prisons of Iraq were once under the Ministry of Interior, but have now been placed under the MoJ. The corrections service, understaffed and without a budget, has always had to fight to get hand-me-downs from other ministries and as such, has had its needs perpetually overlooked, said Cannon.

"The ministries are big organizations and we wanted to make sure that these vehicles got to the Iraqi Corrections Service [instead of] being used as a...staff car [or for] judge training," said Cannon. "We are trying to...take care of [our counterparts] the ICS... and when we transfer all the prisoners over to them, we want them to be successful."

The PMO will continue with its advise and assist mission as the deadline for the reduction of American forces draws near and the last prisoner and piece of equipment is turned over to the ICS.

"At the end of the day, we will be able to look back without fear, regret or reservation that we will have done everything we could possibly do to set the Ministry of Justice and the Iraqi Corrections Service up for success to deal with this high-risk detainee population," said Cannon. "In doing so, we will provide another layer and level of security - not only for Iraq, but for this region and this part of the world."

Page last updated Thu March 24th, 2011 at 02:14