By Elaine WilsonJune 15, 2007
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Army News Service, June 18, 2007) - The intelligence community reached a milestone earlier this month as leaders broke ground for the first joint detention training facility in the Defense Department.
The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command Detention Training Facility, slated for a fall completion, will be located in a remote area of Camp Bullis known as Black Jack Village. The 470th Military Intelligence Brigade, at nearby Fort Sam Houston, will oversee daily operations.
The facility will be "the first in DoD that will enable all of the services to come together and train the full operations that center around detention operations," said INSCOM Commander Maj. Gen. John DeFreitas III in his opening remarks at the June 5 groundbreaking ceremony.
The state-of-the-art center will equip servicemembers with the skills they need to stand up and run a detention facility, skills that have come to the forefront with the nation's most current war, Maj. Gen. DeFreitas said. "Detention facilities are complex, with a host of legal and medical issues," the general said.
However, servicemembers are lacking in experience with detention facilities, particularly in an age of 100-hour wars, the general said. The inexperience, coupled with a continuing need for detention facilities, has created a need for a higher level of training.
To fill the training gap, Detention Training Facility instructors will impart lessons learned downrange, taking all facets of facility operations into consideration to include the roles and responsibilities of military police, interrogators, guards, medical personnel and lawyers, as well as training that will help course attendees understand the interoperability of their jobs.
"There's no place today in the DoD with the ability to train those skill sets within one location," Maj. Gen. DeFreitas said.
Training will comprise course work and scenarios that will familiarize students with a variety of possible events, the general said. He described a possible scenario in which a local tribal leader asks for the release of prisoners and then holds a demonstration when his demands aren't met. Students learn possible solutions and the consequences of their actions. "These are real-world situations," Maj. Gen. DeFreitas said. "We're taking lessons learned from the field and will directly apply them here."
By dealing with various scenarios prior to real-world events, servicemembers will be better equipped to make the right decisions. For instance, health care providers will learn how to look for signs of torture and to determine whether the detainee has been mistreated, and guards will become acquainted with the telltale signs of a planned escape. On a personal side, students will learn to deal with the emotions associated with caring for or guarding someone who may just have shot another servicemember.
"If trainees are never confronted with a situation, they may be unsure of what to do when it happens. Do you report'" Maj. Gen. DeFreitas said. "You have to think through the emotions; that's the whole purpose of training. We will teach people what to look for and also explain to them that their leaders expect them to report if something isn't right."
If this type of training had been in place a few years ago, the prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, "probably the most embarrassing event that our nation has suffered in the past several years," could have been prevented, Maj. Gen. DeFreitas said.
"The Army hadn't done a good job training interrogators, the folks that were involved with detainee operations and the leaders. We learned in painful detail how important this training is," the general said.
Once up and running, the facility will be available to servicemembers throughout the world.
"This is a big day for the future of interrogator training," said Army Col. Richard Saddler, former commander, 470th Military Intelligence Brigade. "With the first shovel of dirt, the foundation of interrogator future collective training is on its way."
(Elaine Wilson writes for the Fort Sam Houston Public Information Office.)