KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A soldier stands on a cushioned mat in a makeshift cell with boundaries defined with two-by-fours. Five soldiers in riot gear stand ready outside the cell prepared to breach and subdue their mock prisoner.
Given the go-ahead from their lieutenant, the five rush in and wrestle their prisoner to the ground, using techniques they’d learned earlier that day in a Field Detention Center training class.
Soldiers from the Special Troops Battalion of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, participated in the Field Detention Center training class at Forward Operating Base Salerno on Wednesday, Jan. 26.
The training was designed to instill confidence and competence in soldiers who are not Military Police. The soldiers will use these skills while working in the detention facility located on FOB Salerno, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Brigitte Barr said.
“The goal of the class is to get everybody comfortable to perform their jobs,” said Barr, a native of Radcliff, Ky. “We want to give them the confidence they need to perform their duties.”
The class taught basic corrections techniques, how to properly search areas, and force cell extraction. Soldiers use force cell extraction when a detainee refuses to cooperate and must be moved from one cell to another. They also learned pressure points and the unarmed self defense techniques that are used in a corrections environment to subdue unruly prisoners.
After wrestling their mock prisoner to his stomach, the five soldiers use pressure points and work as a team to get handcuffs on his wrists and ankles. With input from their instructor, they lift their prisoner up and carry him out of the old cell and place him in another.
On the team leader’s command they lower the prisoner to the floor. After releasing him from the handcuffs, the team leader directs them individually to release the hold they have on the prisoner and stack up behind him, ensuring they have their full weight against him to maintain control of the prisoner.
Once the team leader is the last one holding the prisoner, with the combined weight of his teammates resting against him, he gives the order, “prepare to extract.” On his command, each guard simultaneously pulls the soldier in front of him out of the cell, leaving the prisoner lying on the ground.
To prepare the trainees, mobile training teams from the joint task force in Kabul, Afghanistan, came to FOB Salerno to instruct them on the basics of correction and to give them first- hand knowledge, said U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Wayne Robins of Joint Task Force 435, who taught the course.
“It’s important they learn to protect themselves and each other from these detainees they have been ordered to supervise,” said Robins, a native of Fallbrook, Calif. “It’s a tough job, given the majority of detainees are coming in for serious offenses.”
The 20 soldiers attending the class came from a variety of jobs, ranging from cook to mechanic to fueler.
When the training was complete, Robins said he’d done his best to impress upon them the importance of maintaining custody and control of the detention facility.
“Every facility has vulnerable positions, but we’re here on a FOB,” Robins said. “I want them to understand they need to maintain constant supervision of everything, not just of the detainees, but of the entire area to ensure it stays secure for their safety and the unit’s safety.”