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MP Battalion’s work with Afghan soldiers sets course for transition

By MCC (SW) Maria Yager , Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435

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Jan. 23, 2011 — CENTCOM

An Afghan National Army Soldier gives a farewell embrace to his mentor, Task Force Rocky Mountain Command Sgt. Major William Woods during a Jan. 19 transfer of authority ceremony. Photo by U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Maria Yager.

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 23, 2011)— After a nine-month deployment supporting detention operations at the Detention Facility in Parwan, the 193rd Military Police Battalion (IR), hailed as Task Force Rocky Mountain was relieved by 402nd Military Police Battalion (IR) during a transfer of authority ceremony Jan.19 here.

“When Task Force Rocky Mountain assumed command and control and sustainment responsibilities of the DFIP my end state was three things; to be a role model of detention operations for the ANA (Afghan National Army); to moderate the detainee behavior; and to make sure that all task force servicemembers return home knowing they served with honor,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Laura Clellan, Task Force Rocky Mountain commander. “I can safely say – mission accomplished.”

Under Clellan’s watch and on an aggressive timetable, Task Force Rocky Mountain experienced the first ANA military police Soldiers join the DFIP guard force, learning and working alongside their U.S. counterparts.  The task force’s tour culminated in the opening of a new Afghan facility, operated under Afghan authority at the DFIP.

“You really made a difference from the job you did personally, each and every one of you,” said U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, Jr., Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 commander who met with the 193rd before the TOA ceremony. Task Force Rocky Mountain, commanded by Clellan and comprised of Soldiers from the Colorado Army National Guard, directly supported the CJIATF-435’s mission consisting of detention operations across Afghanistan.

“Your work has been critical to our overall mission – not the overall mission of 435, but the overall mission of ISAF and US Forces Afghanistan,” said Harward.”You are a critical component of that over arching strategy.”

According to Harward, Rocky Mountain’s deployment came during a very dynamic time in Afghanistan.  In addition to providing transparent and humane, care, custody and control of detainees, the 193rd working with CJIATF-435 and Task Force Peacekeeper, was tasked to train, incorporate and mentor ANA Soldiers.  Their mission marked the beginning of the conditions-based transition of U.S. detention operations from the United States to the government of Afghanistan in accordance with an agreement between the two governments last year.

“I take a lot of information and a lot of experience from Rocky Mountain. They pushed me for improvement and work for the ANA,” said ANA Sgt. Maj. Reza, a non-commissioned officer in the Parwan and Pol-e-Charki Military Police Brigade who has worked with the U.S. at the DFIP for nine months. “I have good love for all the people of this battalion.”

Harward praised Task Force Rocky Mountain Soldiers for conducting and supporting model detention operations at the DFIP, which provided safe, humane and effective management of the detainee population, and allowed willing detainees to participate in reintegration activities, educational and training programs.

“The mission of providing humane care, custody and control of the detainees ranks among the most demanding missions out in the field,” said Harward, “To all of you, you did it superbly. You treated them well. You treated them with respect.”

The detention facility is equipped with modern medical facilities, an on-site family visitation area, video teleconferencing capability, large recreation areas, vocational-technical training and education classrooms, and additional space to conduct legal proceedings.

Task Force Rocky Mountain faced 11 inspections and evaluations of operations, facilities, and detainee treatment from organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross, always receiving accolades. To support the U.S. government’s commitment to transparent and humane detention operations, the task force facilitated nearly 1,000 detention facility tours and key leader engagements consisting of Afghan and international officials.

Harward said he was immensely proud on the accomplishments of Task Force Rocky Mountain and praised the Soldiers for their professionalism and service.

“You made a huge difference. You made history. Please keep that in mind when you go home,” said Harward.

The 402nd Military Police Battalion (IR), Task Force Cornhusker, who assumed command from Task Force Rocky Mountain is comprised of members from the Nebraska Army National Guard and is commanded by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Eric Teegerstrom. The 402nd MP BN (IR) was charged with the mission to provide humane care, custody and control of detainees along with all operations within the DFIP while mentoring the ANA military police Soldiers learning and working alongside the Task Force Cornhusker Soldiers.

CJIATF-435 has oversight of detention operations in Afghanistan, including care and custody of detainees, full implementation of detainee review procedures, and vocational and educational programs designed to facilitate the peaceful reintegration of detainees into society. CJIATF-435 serves as correction and detention operations advisors for their ANA partners and is conducting a conditions-based transition of detention operations to Afghan control while promoting Rule of Law practices.