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    Republic of Korea, U.S. Military Police Train Together on Detention Operations



    Courtesy Story

    200th Military Police Command

    “Katchi Kapshida! We Go Together!” This is the declaration of unity and cooperation between the military forces of the United States and Republic of Korea through the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea and Eighth Army. In March 2024, Army Military Police units from both countries trained together in Freedom Shield 2024 to increase cooperation and interoperability in the discipline of detention operations, or enemy prisoner of war operations. Since the signing of the U.S./ROK Memorandum of Agreement in 1982, the application and practice of transferring care, custody, and control of simulated EPWs from U.S. MP units to ROK MP units has seldom been exercised in a modern and technologically advanced battlefield. This year’s event was the first live training event with ROK and US MPs working together, side by side, in over 20 years. The exercise marks not an end state, but rather a pivotal point for larger and more complex combined MP training events on the Korean Peninsula. The driving momentum between the US and ROK MP leadership is to escalate investment and procurement in modernization of systems and processes for both militaries.

    Detention Operations Planning

    Historically, military planning for the care, custody, and control of EPWs has been limited in terms of the number of EPWs managed, MP Soldiers required for operations, and the lack of interoperability between other militaries and systems used to support operations. The limitations on these planning considerations are further amplified when applied to Large Scale Combat Operations. With lessons learned from case studies from Operations Desert Storm, the Global War on Terrorism and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, LSCO presents significant challenges and opportunities for detention operations to impact operational and strategic level decisions. Emerging technologies are bridging language and culture barriers to freely track and transfer information in near real-time, while keeping the information secure and confidential.

    Linear planning for EPW operations must be considered in all aspects of the multi-domain fight. The enemy will use all available resources to inhibit adherence to Geneva Conventions in providing humane medical care, sanitation, administration and security for EPWs. The enemy is anticipated to spread misinformation, use artificial intelligence to shape their own narrative about our operation, and use all accessible means to disrupt and discredit operations with EPW populations. Effective Offensive, Information, and Detention Operations have major impacts on the will of the enemy to fight or surrender and bring conflict to a fast and decisive end. The “pencil and paper” method of tracking EPWs is completely inadequate considering the projected magnitude throughout the theater and joint operational areas.

    Freedom Shield 2024

    The 200th MP Command’s role in Freedom Shield 2024 was to fully evolve EPW operations from conceptual planning to individual actions and applications between US and ROK MP Soldiers from the lowest echelons up. “The recent resumption of the Korea-U.S. joint detainee transfer exercise after 17 years holds significant importance. Unlike previous exercises, which were straightforward and procedural, this iteration involved the active participation of troops from both Korean and American forces,” stated Lt. Col Hyunchu Noh, the ROK Army MP chief of policy. Live training showcased systems used to track and maintain records and demonstrate realistic processing between partner forces. Technological advancements are critical in importing biometric data, tracking EPW property, and properly titling each detainee for reporting to commanders, U.S. policy makers and the International Committee of the Red Cross. ROK-U.S. combined training on the Biometrics Automated Tool – Army and Detainee Reporting System captured these requirements and processes with EPW role players. BAT-A, a handheld device used to collect retinal, fingerprints, and facial images during force protection screenings, and DRS are required detainee accountability databases for all DOD agencies. EPWs are generally in processed within 14 days of capture and assigned an Internment Serial Number by DRS for all documentation, including medical records. “We culminated in this exercise when US and ROKA forces established and practiced an international transfer point, where notional U.S. captured detainees were transferred to ROK Army custody after thorough screening and vetting by both partners. One key takeaway is the necessity to further develop interoperable technologies, like the Javelin biometric device, and data sharing protocols that increase the speed of the processing a detainee," said Lt. Col. Jack Gray, deputy commander of the 290th MP Brigade.

    Emerging technology is becoming readily available to share EPW information in different languages to enable data accuracy and remove human error between countries and cultures. “Being a part of detention operations in multinational training with the ROK MPs provided the unique experience of watching not only MP, military intelligence, and admin functions work together to run a Detainee Service Branch, but also show the true interoperability to work an international transfer point… in a LSCO environment where the volume of captured EPWs will be at levels that we have not seen since World War II and the Korean War,” remarked 290th MP Brigade project officer, Capt. Christopher Maxwell.

    Freedom Shield 2024 also emphasized the strategic role MP Detention Camp Liaison Detachments and Theater Detainee Reporting Center detachments play in LSCO for the Korean Peninsula. DCL detachments are comprised of only 13 personnel and tasked to ensure US government interests are protected while provisions of the Geneva/Hague Convention are honored pertaining to detainees captured by US forces post transfer to host nation or multinational force control. The Army currently has six DCL detachments, all of which are assigned to the 200th MP Command in the Army Reserve and three TDRC detachments, two under the 200th MP Command and one in the New York Army National Guard. TDRC detachments consist of 28 personnel and function as a theater centralized agency for the receipt, processing, maintenance, dissemination and transmittal of data and property pertaining to detainee operations.

    The 200th Military Police Command progressively and iteratively performs detention operations exercises throughout the United States. Executing operations with our ROK allies has elevated considerations to new operational and strategic levels. Col Jonathan Bennett, commander of the 290th MP Brigade noted, “The relationships established, and insights mutually shared between our MPs and our fellow ROK Army MPs were even more dynamic and impactful than we expected. This type of combined training between active component, Reserve, and international allies and partners is essential to building a foundation of trust and skill that will enable us to fight and win together in the future.”


    A task posed to participating units for Freedom Shield 2024 was to identify challenges in the training environment and test new concepts and ideas to overcome them. The most obvious challenge was language barrier between MP formations. Korean Augmentation to United States Army Soldiers offered a significant and robust solution to language and cultural barriers between the U.S. and ROK forces. Korean men compete for selection into the two-year KATSA program to work alongside U.S. forces and help as linguists during training or conflict.
    Operationally, the ability to project EPW processing rates and identify choke points and best practices for efficiency was challenged. Using the nine-station in-processing template, the processing rate per detainee initially took approximately 15 minutes. Through iterative attempts and modifications, a compliant detainee could be processed in less than 12 minutes without contested networks, systems and connectivity. Exercise injects with non-compliant role players slowed the rate and prompted innovation by reducing to eight stations, thereby combining the functions for efficiency. EPW capture rates depend upon multiple factors such as the effectiveness of the information campaign, as demonstrated during Operation Desert Storm, and willingness to surrender to coalition forces, seen in the Pacific during World War II. The better care that U.S. and ROK forces provide to surrendered enemy, the more likely the human aspect of war will diminish the enemy’s will and continue to endure the conditions of war and fight.

    Another challenge identified is the ability of U.S. and ROK forces to provide long term detention and care for thousands of EPWs. Logistic considerations for running one large stockade are akin to resourcing a small city for the EPW population and the guard force. Resourcing and logistic considerations of large stockades of EPWs and retained persons to current standards requires growth of specialized detention operations units across the components to meet the hybrid asymmetric or conventional threat.


    Detention operations on the Korean peninsula are modernizing as both US and ROK forces are committing time, effort and funding to critical military structure and emerging technology for the future fight. Staff Sgt. Giovanni Manz of the 449th MP Company stated, “Participating in combined training alongside our ROK MP counterparts was truly an invaluable experience. It provided us with the opportunity to prepare for potential real-world missions we might undertake together in the event of a crisis. This training not only allowed us to gain firsthand insights into the similarities and differences in our standard operating procedures, but also fostered a deeper sense of unity with the Republic of Korean Army.” The future of detention operations planning lies with both militaries and a cross section of all military services and components working together to provide standard and humane operation where all EPWs, regardless of nationality and disposition at their point of capture, are provided care and safety away from the battlefield until the end of hostilities and repatriation. Our investment in our Soldiers and leaders at all echelons will manifest in modern and functional operations, providing custody and control of all EPWs.


    Date Taken: 04.15.2024
    Date Posted: 04.15.2024 15:47
    Story ID: 468580
    Location: KR

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