By Task Force 134June 27, 2008
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Army News Service, June 27, 2008) - Gen. David H. Petraeus, commanding general of Multi-National Forces-Iraq, joined Task Force 134 (Detainee Operations) and the 300th Military Police Brigade at a ceremony observing the release of about 300 security detainees.
TF 134 is responsible for detainee operations in Iraq, supported by the 300th MP Brigade and the 42nd MP Brigade. TF 134 also offers education and vocational training to prepare the detainees to lead productive lives upon release.
The detainee release ceremony was led by Iraqi officials, indluding Dr. Mahmood Dawood Salman al-Meshhadany, president of the Iraqi Parliament, and Dr. Ahmed Abd al-Ghafour Samara'i, director of the Sunni Endowment.
"Other releasees have joined the reconciliation to start building their country with your brothers," said al-Meshhadany, to the crowd of detainees. "And your country is waiting for you to build it, too."
After the ceremony, the Iraqi officials met with the detainees to wish them well as they left Camp Cropper to return to family and friends in Baghdad and other locations.
There are about 21,000 Coalition detainees at two locations - Camp Cropper in western Baghdad and Camp Bucca in southern Iraq. This number has been steadily decreasing since fall 2007.
Since the beginning of 2008, a total of 8,659 detainees have been released. At this rate, the number of releases is on track to almost double 2007's figure of 8,956.
The increased releases are due to several factors such as stabilization after 2007's "surge," improved assessments, and a review board system, officials said.
Detainees attend a review board every six months in which they have the opportunity to discuss their case. Prior to release, detainees make a pledge to an Iraqi judge that they will work for peace and maintain good conduct. Fewer than 1 percent of released detainees return to detention, and officials said that's a testament to the efficacy and validity of the system.
While Gen. Petraeus was a distinguished guest, the ceremony was led by Iraqi officials, indluding al-Meshhadany and Dr. Ahmed Abd al-Ghafour Samara'i, director of the Sunni Endowment.