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NEWS | Dec. 29, 2010

North Carolina National Guardmembers reflect on historic Iraq mission

By Army Staff Sgt. Edward Daileg United States Forces-Iraq

IRAQ - Inside the T-walls and barbed wires at Camp Cropper, the North Carolina National Guard’s 105th Military Police Battalion was part of the historic transformation of internment operations in Iraq.

The MPs, who are now preparing for redeployment, can look back at their deployment knowing they impacted the future of this country by assisting and training Iraqi corrections personnel who assumed control of the last U.S. detention base in Iraq.

Since their arrival in Iraq in April 2010, the 105th assumed the duties of internment and resettlement operations at Camp Cropper.

On July 15, the MPs took part in the historic transfer of the Cropper Theater Internment Facility to the Government of Iraq. The Cropper TIF was the last major U.S.-run detention facility in Iraq.

As the U.S. and Iraqi forces prepared for the Cropper handover, the MPs assisted in the transfer of more than 1,500 detainees to Iraqi detention facilities throughout the country.

“The handover of several TIFs to the Iraqi government was a symbol of our hard work and dedication to the people of Iraq,” said Army Maj. James Sasser, executive officer, 105th MP Battalion. “The 105th is proud to be part of this accomplishment.”

In order for the transfer to be successful, the Citizen-Soldiers provided critical training to the Iraqi correction officers, ensuring they were up to the task of managing prison operations and securing prisoners.

“Other than guarding detainees, we also trained the ICOs to take over the detainee visitation program, detainee supply warehouse and logistical functions, engineering tasks and the TIF
Operations Center,” said Army Maj. Diana Stumpf, operations officer.

“With the training and guidance they received from us, we see them now with the same level of professionalism as the U.S. guard force,” said Army Staff Sgt. Randy Kite, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Iraqi correction officer integration team.

Training the Iraqi correction officers was challenging in the beginning, but rewarding in the end, Kite said.

“After getting them to understand what we did and why we did it, they employed our procedures and made it their own,” he said.

“The ICOs were very professional and willing to accept the training. They understood that what they were doing wasn’t for themselves, but for the good of their country.”

The training and advising that the MPs provided to the Iraqi corrections officers to ensure detainees are treated with dignity and respect is one of the main reasons for success, Sasser said.

“Our guard force worked side by side with the ICOs; they have shown great motivation and professionalism to the detainees by treating them with dignity and respect. The ICOs see that
professionalism and adapt it to their program,” he said.

As the 105th prepares to head back home to North Carolina in the coming months, Sasser said the professionalism of the Soldiers was critical to the success of both the TIF transfer to the Government of Iraq and the development and increased capabilities of the Iraqi corrections officers.

“Soldiers from different levels have collectively put their efforts on this mission. Now we can look back and see the fruits of the labor,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Andrew Haswell, battalion sergeant major.