CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – It is bright and hot outside, another typical day in Kuwait. At the Theater Field Confinement Facility, a construction crew labors nearby to move and arrange large, concrete Force Protection barriers into place. One military police officer oversees an inmate work detail to clear trash when inexplicably, there is a tussle between the two men and the inmate breaks free.
The escape is planned, the inmate, another military police officer in an orange jumpsuit. For the U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers of Detachment 1, 450th Military Police Company, responsible for the only Level 1 confinement facility for service members in the Middle East, it is a real, although unlikely, threat.
“We wanted to exercise our emergency plan, in the case of an escaped inmate, to see how it well worked, if it worked, and what improvements, if any, could be made,” said Army Reserve Lt. Col. Christopher Davis, 1 DET, 450th MP commander. It was the first opportunity for the unit to conduct this exercise since arriving in Kuwait, as well as the first time this exercise has been held at Camp Arifjan since 2010.
“[The emphasis] of this exercise was to make sure we could contact the different agencies -- within a matter of minutes. Back in the states, where they can get off post: time is everything. Here there is nowhere to go, but they could still do some damage,” he said. Davis, an Iuka, Miss. native, has more than 28 years of experience and works as a civilian law enforcement officer.
Davis speculated that the inmate could return to their unit to look for assistance, sneak into the barracks to steal a uniform to avoid detection or seek retribution against the parties responsible for their incarceration. The best way to mitigate these factors is to train.
“You have to practice or train. If you don’t train, you get rusty. If we practice, practice, practice, then in the event that something does happen, we know exactly what to do because it’s muscle memory or instinct,” said Davis.
After the inmate ran, the Soldiers worked through their contact list to alert other law enforcement agencies and emergency services. The unit coordinated the return of personnel who were off shift. Response teams were formed. Relevant information, such as the physical appearance of the inmate, was utilized to create a flyer, known as a “rabbit card.”
These activities and the recommendations of the Soldiers who
participated in the search patrols can help the unit revise their standard operating procedures and identify areas a would-be escapee might hide in.
“I was pleased with the coordination. Everything went well, it just took longer than I’d like,” said Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Gary Maynard, the unit’s Correctional Service Branch Chief. Maynard is responsible for running the guard force, inmate movement and the day-to-day operation of the facility. He has been in the Army Reserve for 12 years and is an Oxford, Miss. Native.
“The Provost Marshal Office (PMO)’s reaction time was really good, but it took a little bit longer to get the other confinement facility personnel back here.”
At the next exercise, scheduled to coincide with the arrival of the replacement unit, he said time will be the main focus. Overall, he hoped his Soldiers learned to remain vigilant in their duties.
“I always tell my Soldiers to expect the unexpected. Be ready. Be prepared for anything that could happen and keep your heads on a swivel,” Maynard said.