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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2011

MP battalion’s work with Afghan partners strengthens Rule of Law efforts

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

CENTCOM

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert G. McNeil, 19th MP BN commander and his command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Gail Dippel, case the 19th MP BN colors during a transfer of authority ceremony Jan. 27. Photo by U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Maria Yager.

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (Feb. 1, 2011) — After a 12-month deployment supporting Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 and Operation Enduring Freedom, the 19th Military Police Battalion (CID), was relieved by 10th Military Police Battalion (CID) during a transfer of authority ceremony Jan. 27 here.

“I thank you very much for making history and making history with distinction,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert G. McNeil, 19th MP BN commander. “We have accomplished much and you persevered in making it happen despite all the odds and challenges that were before us.”

In addition to the Hawaii-based battalion’s traditional investigative mission, the 19th MP BN’s deployment to Afghanistan marked a historic accomplishment in the CID ranks.

The 19th MP BN is the first unit in CID history to establish a Local National Investigation Directorate and a Detainee Criminal Investigation Detachment, which are playing a critical role in the transition of detention operations to the government of Afghanistan and increasing rule of law capabilities in Afghanistan.

While U.S. and coalition forces may detain individuals from the battle space who pose a threat to the government and people of Afghanistan, the U.S. and its coalition partners under the Law of Armed Conflict, CID investigators working in the DCID prepared these cases for detainee review boards at the Detention Facility in Parwan.

In cases where the evidence supported transferring the detainee to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for prosecution under Afghan law, CID investigators from the LNID worked with Afghan investigators to prepare criminal cases against Afghans captured in the battle space for prosecution in the Afghan legal system.

“When I first got here, they said if we had one conviction in 12 months we’d be successful,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Vitatoe, 19 MP BN (CID). “We’ve had 42.”

Vitatoe has partnered with members from Afghanistan’s Counter Terrorism Police, Ministry of Interior Criminal Investigation Division, and National Directorate of Security criminal investigators.

The battalion also provided CID agents to the Major Crimes Task Force in Kabul with the responsibility for providing primary instructors for investigative courses and support to combined and interagency capacity building.

The Major Crimes Task Force is a critical element in the development of a strong, elite, professional law enforcement agency focused on crimes too contentious or dangerous to be developed on the provincial level, McNeil said.

“The 19th MP Battalion provided critical assistance to our Afghan partners as they sought to build the rule of law in this country,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan commander, who spoke during the TOA. “They went above and beyond their traditional investigative mission integrating into CJIATF-435, fully supporting capacity building and establishment of rule of law.”

The 10th MP BN (CID), which assumed command from the 19th MP BN, is based in North Carolina and commanded by U.S. Army Lt. Col. David E. Heath. The 10th MP BN (CID) will continue the mission established by the 19th MP BN, serving as a multi-functional law enforcement task force, capable of commanding and controlling a complex Rule of Law set throughout theatre while continuing to conduct felony criminal investigations.

The 10 MP BN (CID) previous deployments include supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait and Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait and Iraq.

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.