Gen. David Petraeus, International Security Assistance Force commander, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry speak with Vice Adm. Robert Harward, Joint Task Force 435 commander, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and other officials in a conference July 24 at Camp Phoenix. Petraeus and the officials talked about the Afghan security forces taking over detainee operation centers throughout Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Rebecca Linder)
CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan (July 26, 2010) – The top commander in Afghanistan met with senior officials from Afghanistan and the United States here July 24 to discuss the transition of detention operations in this country including the Detention Facility in Parwan.
“We have an unshakeable commitment to teamwork among all elements of the Afghan and coalition members engaged in detention and corrections operations,” said Gen. David Petraeus, International Security Assistance Force commander, during a transition shura here.
“We are all determined to move forward on this effort and continue the important work necessary to enable its transition in accordance with President Karzai’s direction of its transition over to Afghan control,” said Petraeus, who assumed command of ISAF earlier this month. The general added that transition is a process, not an event.
“This is another important step on the road to transition of the (DFIP),” he said. “The transition of responsibility of the Parwan facility is symbolic of what we are seeking to do in a number of areas as we work toward transitioning other security institutions and functions and, indeed, geographic areas over the course of the months and years ahead.”
The meeting represented a renewal of the a memorandum of understanding signed earlier this year among various Afghan ministries guiding the process for the Afghan Ministry of Defense to take the lead on assuming responsibility for the DFIP. The facility currently falls under control of Joint Task Force 435, which is responsible for command, control and oversight of all U.S. detention operations in Afghanistan.
“I’d like to reassure our international partners that we are looking forward to that teamwork and that spirit of coordination, cooperation and partnership which will continue through the whole process as far as detention operations are concerned, or the rest of our work toward completion of our giant mission,” said Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister of Defense.
The memo has the key Afghan ministries agreeing to assign personnel to serve in the DFIP, working alongside American personnel through the transition process.
Hundreds of Afghan National Army Military Police soldiers have begun detention operations and corrections training since the January agreement. The first class of soldiers completed the Afghan Corrections Officers course in May and the Advanced Individual Training Program in July. Those soldiers are currently participating in on-the-job training at the DFIP working side-by-side with U.S. Soldiers and Sailors who comprise the guard force at the DFIP.
The DFIP was designed to promote security, transparency and the rule of law in Afghanistan both now and when the facility is transitioned to the Afghan government. The DFIP allows for safe, humane and effective management of the population to minimize the influence of negative leaders, and allows willing detainees to participate in group activities and educational programs. The facility is equipped with modern medical facilities, an on-site family visitation area, expanded video teleconferencing capability, large recreation areas, vocational technical and education classrooms, and additional space to conduct legal proceedings.
“We will be looking forward to the completion of this process,” Wardak said. “We are removing another impediment to our final victory. We are looking forward to it and we strive relentlessly to achieve it. It is not going to be an event, it is going to be a process.”
The Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office, National Directorate of Security and the Ministry of Interior are also actively participating in the transition. June marked the first Afghan criminal trial conducted by an Afghan court at the Justice Center in Parwan and another 100 detainees are scheduled for trial under Afghan criminal law in the coming months.
Other participants at the transition shura included the Honorable Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan; Habibullah Ghalib, Minister of Justice; Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, Minister of Interior; U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, JTF-435 commander; and ANA Lt. Gen. Sher Muhammad Karimi, Afghan Army chief of staff.