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Military intelligence battalion strengthens Afghans’ intel capability

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

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Feb. 8, 2011 — CENTCOM

After a 12-month deployment supporting Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 and Operation Enduring Freedom, the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Charlie Company, 205th MI BN, from Fort Shafter, Hawaii were relieved by the 415th MI BN Louisiana Army National Guard and Alpha Company, 202nd MI BN from Fort Gordon, Ga. during a transfer of authority ceremony Monday, Feb. 7, 2011. Photo by U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Maria Yager.

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Feb. 8, 2011) — After a 12-month deployment supporting Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 and Operation Enduring Freedom, the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Charlie Company, 205th MI BN, from Fort Shafter, Hawaii, were relieved during a transfer of authority ceremony Feb. 7.

“You have really put us on this path to transition – to building capabilities within the government of Afghanistan, supporting our efforts to move from intelligence-based detention operations to evidence-based detention operations,” said U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, CJIATF-435 commander, who served as the guest speaker during the ceremony. ”This was probably the most challenging part of our work.”

The unit, dubbed Task Force Knight, was instrumental in the development and opening of the Afghan Debriefing Academy.

The Afghan Debriefing Academy trains Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) personnel in humane interrogation operations in accordance with international standards.  The training also enhances the Afghan government’s ability to conduct intelligence collection.

“These people started the first class for intelligence for the Afghan National Army,” said an ANA Soldier who has worked alongside Task Force Knight training ANA Soldiers at the academy. “This group of people has a good story of Afghanistan, of the people of Afghanistan, the culture of Afghanistan. They have improved the intelligence capability of Afghanistan.”

Since opening the academy, Task Force Knight trained 15 Afghan interrogators now working for GIRoA, increasing Afghan capability to collect intelligence and conduct operations against insurgents and terrorists.

“Military intelligence is what gives our military the upper hand in this vicious fight against the Taliban and it is our military intelligence that brings us together today,” said Harward.

The unit’s collection mission supported theater and national-level intelligence requirements, contributing to counter-insurgency operations throughout Afghanistan. Combat commanders used this intelligence to dismantle terrorist and insurgent cells, locate and destroy weapons caches and indentify builders and facilitators of improvised explosive devices.

Task Force Knight was relieved by Task Force Hammer, composed of the 415th MI BN from the Louisiana Army National Guard and Alpha Company, 202nd MI BN, from Fort Gordon, Ga.

“Our team is trained and ready for the mission,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Leonard, Task Force Hammer. “We work well together and are a good unit.”

The 415th MI BN previously supported operations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, along with Kuwait, Iraq and Kosovo.

CJIATF-435 has oversight of detention operations in Afghanistan, including care and custody of detainees, 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.