YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – The "Arrowhead" Brigade's Military Police Platoon conducted detainee operations training during a brigade-level field training exercise at Yakima Training Center, Wash., Oct. 8.
The MP platoon is part of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The MP's job involves enforcing military law. One of their duties requires MPs to strike a balance between treating those who've been detained with respect and maintaining control of the situation, said Staff Sgt. Rebecca Osborn, of Dagget, Mich., one of the MP platoon's senior noncommissioned officers.
Detainee operations have taken on a more moderate tone in the years since the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2004.
The way a detainee is searched, interrogated and safeguarded has taken on a whole new tone, said Sgt. 1st Class Adan Reyes, of Pendleton, Ore., the MP platoon sergeant.
"What has changed is that that Army realized it's gained more [intelligence] value if you put a little more effort on treating other people as we expected to be treated. The minute they start taking into consideration the comfort of these guys - a blanket if they're cold, or a cigarette if they have one - they realize they're getting more good (information) back," said Reyes.
From the moment the detainee is captured, the process begins.
"When you're infantry on the front line, the detainee operations are quick. A quick search, a quick tactical questioning and get them out of there because their main concern is the fight," Reyes said.
The detainees are then transferred to a company-level detention holding area.
"We can hold a detainee at a company DHA for up to four days and then we move them to the field detention site for 14 days," Osborn said. "If they're found to be a bad guy, they go up to the division level detention facility for an unforeseeable time depending on what they did. If the interrogators don't get any valuable information from them, they will release them in 14 days or sooner."
Osborn went on to add that, in her experience, detainee operations have changed for the better.
"We've put into place more guidelines and rules, where the detainees will get three meals a day. We also give them their hour of recreation time outside where they have direct sunlight and they are allowed to pray during their times of prayer," Osborn said.
A lot of that has to do with the unit-level training that their soldiers receive when they get to the brigade.
"All of our guys get a small block of instruction in detainee operations during [advanced individual training], but when they get to the unit we spend a lot of time on it because it is a big deal," Osborn said. "That's because if something happens, it's our lives and careers at stake and we could go to jail if [the detainees] don't get treated right."
It is for that reason that these MPs can be found training and retraining on detainee operations at all levels throughout their month at Yakima Training Center. These days, human dignity has been known to yield better intelligence, which potentially saves American lives.
"Now training is more taking care of the detainees' needs, treating them like human beings. Today [we focus on] how much we can get out of them, and we get more [intelligence] from them if we treat them right," Reyes said.