Army Interview with Army Command Sergeant Major re: Military Police Operations at Camp Bucca

An Army Command Sergeant Major with the 724th Military Police Battalion deployed to Camp Bucca, and described his unit's experience and the challenges they faced at the prison with force protection. The CSM stated that his unit's job was to process detainees and "After they're processed, they're held, they're processed into the camp and they're housed in the camp and then they're taken care of. They're protected from the enemy. They're protected from themselves. We protect them, that's the mission of our large companies as well". And finished his interview with the following "One of the things we cannot do is abuse prisoners in any way".

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Transcript
Doc_date: 
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Doc_rel_date: 
Friday, July 29, 2005
Doc_text: 

IFIT-35-120 Sergeant Major b(L6 {V\\
Q:

I'm with the 35th Military History Detachment, and I'm
speaking with Command Sergeant Major11111111111.0 He's
the CSM of the 724th Battalion. This is the 21st day of
May 2003. Sergeant Major, could you please give me your
name? Spell your last name for me, and your position here
in the battalion.

A: I'm last name spellec11.111111111111M
the Command Sergeant Major of the 724th MP Battalion.

Q:

Sergeant Major, can you tell me when your unit was first

alerted for activation?

A:

The unit was first alerted in mid-October. We were
officially altered about three weeks prior to our

mobilization.

And what was the actual date that you were mobilized?

Q:

A:
We were mobilized on the 27th of December, 2002.

And did you do anything before that period of time, as far
as preparation?

Q:

A:
Yes, we had a 15-day AT that we started on about the 11th
of November. And we also had some members of the unit in
S-1 and S-4 that spent quite a bit of time doing RSTs and
some AT, and myself, I came to the unit, the Colonel and I
came to the unit several weeks before the AT. So we had

0 545
1

our equipment. One of the problems we ran into was that we

had ordered I believe it was sixteen containers for our

equipment and we were given initially just eight, and then
later we had a total of eleven to load and send to Kuwait.
All the other equipment was loaded on flatbeds and taken up

to Fort Dix, which had to be loaded into containers and

sent out from there. So there was some times when, not

having done this before, we had to load containers, unload

them, then reload them again to make sure that we had the

right spacing. And then when we found out that we didn't

have the number of containers that we were supposed to, we

had to take everything out and reload it again so we could

get a tighter fit. So we had a lot of practice loading

conexes(?).

Q: So this was a major logistical problem, then, for the unit.

A: It was. Some of the logistical things that happened in our
advantage was that our RSC provided us with 11 laptops
which would later be used for our processing, in the
processing line, which other RSC's didn't give them the
support of their battalions. So some of the logistics
really worked out for us.

Q: Now, in pre-planning, you had mentioned that a lot of the
equipment was loaded on flatbeds. How many flatbeds did
you have to haul up to Fort Dix?

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3

their own business, they were having to either give up

their business or turn it over to somebody and put it in
hands of someone they could trust. And so there was a lot
of that. I got a lot of soldier issues on that. And I
would brief them on the legality what their companies have
to do, and that sort of thing. But most of the companies
supported the troops. Especially at that period of time,
they knew we were going to war and so they were really
receptive. They had a really good family support group as
well.
Q: And is that family support still continuing?
A: Yes, sir, it is. Very much so.
Q: And how are you able to stay in touch with your family
support people?
A: emmiLD (ij-‘" Master Sergeant...his wife is heading that up as well as
company commander's wife. They contact them both by e-mail
and by voice mail quite often. There have been some groups
back home that have taken us under their wings. I can't
think of the name of the organization. VFW had adopted our
unit, so they're doing quite a bit for our unit as well.
So they sent a lot of care packages, but they've also taken
care of the families back home as well.
Q: I'm sure that's helped out the morale of each of your
soldiers, to know that they can get in touch with the
A n
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5

family members and if there are issues there's someone home

that is able to take care of this for them.
A: Oh, that's extremely important. And they're were in the
business before we even left. They were setting everything
up, doing cook-outs and things like that prior to our
(inaudible).
Q: So you have a good family support system going prior to
this mobilization.
A: We did, I think.
Q: And what about your assets that you have, where you able to
gather all the different things needed for your battalion?
Were you able to -- did you lack in certain equipments?
A: Yeah, we were lacking some immersion(?) heaters, some of
the equipment that we have. For example, the Duesome(?)
has, the old Duesome(?) has, they don't have the parts that
-- the Army has gone to five guns(?), and so that was an
issue. But one of the advantages we had again was our
operations sergeant major also works in the -- I can't
think of the term. The mechanical issue, he's on that side
of the house, so he was able to work issues getting our
equipment up and running prior to our mobilization. The
biggest issue, probably, was Class 8. We have to have a
lot of supplies for DPW's in the Class 8 arena.
Q: What is the Class 8?
0 1 LI 5 5 0 6

just gave us -- in fact, we didn't know that we were going
to Iraq. The troops didn't know we were going to Iraq
until the day we left, that time that we left. And it was
made public, I believe, a couple days before we actually
mobilized. They basically knew, they guessed, but they
didn't know whether they we were going to Iraq or
Afghanistan, for example. So they didn't really know.
That was one of the things that I had to contend with,
troops asking me, "Do you know where we're going?" Yeah,
but I can't tell you. That kind of thing.
Q: So it was part of the fear of the unknown.
A: Right.
Q: And in your last days just before you left your home
station, did you have a family support party, or gathering,
and to (inaudible) all the information to the families?
A: We left on a Monday. That Sunday we had the ceremony. We
had quite a few people who came. Great turn-out. Being
the first unit to be deployed out of West Palm Beach area,
and Fort Lauderdale area, we had quite a bit of media that
came as well. So we had a lot of support both from our
family support group, the unit, and also companies that
donated quite a bit. So that was a blessing.
Q: Were there any other concerns or issues that you had as you
were leaving your home station?
er.•rt,J J
8

really cold weather, and some of them had never been

through that kind of weather. So that was one issue that

they had. Some other issues were the length of time that

we were there, going through the SRP process, that the
initial process part where you go through the personnel and

the medical and things like that took about -- I think they

got the whole battalion through in a couple of days. But

there were a lot of medical issues that kept cropping up,

and the group that was tracking didn't have a good method

of tracking, and so there were times when people would miss

appointments and things, because they didn't know they had

the appointments. And so there was those types of issues

with the SRP part.

Q: From your preparations that you had, doing your AT, for the
organizational weight at Fort Dix (inaudible), running
everything, did you have most if not all of your required
information available to your soldiers so it went more
smoothly for you?

A: Yeah. One of the things that did occur, we had an SRP with the unit. The RSC did an RSP. So we had most of our documentation together before we left. And then when we went through the SRP at Fort Dix, the personnel side went very well for us. Like I said, the medical issue was probably the biggest hit that we took. 01 21556
12

rather -- and the other three companies were going to
different mobe sites. All four companies going to
different mobe sites. But the decision was made to bring
us to Fort Dix as a battalion, which was to me one of the
best decision they made for our battalion.
Q: Had you met the other company commanders and CSMs for the
other companies, and first sergeants prior to that time?
A: No. Never met them before. We talked to them over the
phone, but that's the extent. And we were limited in what
we could say over the phone anyway, because a lot of it was
still classified.
Q: And with the -- there was no problem as far as the
integration of the three units with the battalion? Did you
have any growing pains as far as getting all the
coordination and the assigned duties of each of your
companies?
A: Yeah, we were at Fort Dix. We didn't have OPCON to any of
our subordinate units. They were all separate. Mat Ops(?)
considered each unit as a separate unit even though they
were still under the 724th. So some of the growing pains
that we had were things like when the buses didn't show up,
the companies naturally thought it was the battalion not
doing their job. But that was other entities that were in
charge of that, so we had that aspect. But I think from
01 55C 14

the very beginning we began a relationship with the staff,

and the company staff, and the battalion staff, and so a
lot of those growing pains were subsided pretty quickly.
Q: And what about with the support from the garrison command?
Did they give you much support?
A: The garrison command, I believe did. But the problem with
the garrison, Mat Ops(?), and the battalion -- the brigade
that was in charge of our MRE training weren't connected,
and so there was a lot of times when there was some
communication disconnect between the garrison and the Mat
Ops(?) and the MRE people. And then of course, having four
different companies that are on a different track, training
track, was kind of a difficulty, bringing everything
together sometimes.
Q: And with the organization of bringing all three companies
together, what were the styles of companies that make up
the command?
A: We had -- the battalion is made up of RHHD, which is Fort
Lauderdale. They had the 223, which was from Kentucky.
They're National Guard. We're Army Reserve. And they had
the 267 from Tennessee, which is also National Guard, and
the 822 is from the Chicago area Army Reserve. The 223 is
the Escort Company, which is actually a combat supporter,
originally, that they'd made into an escort company. And
15

Q: While you're at Fort Dix, yes.

A: Yeah, there was a lot of trouble with transportation. One
of the problems at Fort Dix was that they weren't expecting
the big influx of people that they actually got, and so we
were lucky that we were one of the first units there that
we got. We were put in fairly nice quarters, I guess you
could call them that. But we were put together as a
battalion. Some of the units that came in after us faced
problems with housing and transportation as well. I don't
think Fort Dix was really set up with the amount of folks
that they had as far as transportation and housing and
things like that. So transportation was a big issue.

Q: Did they have any other shortages for your soldiers?

A: Dining facilities, they had. When we got there, we had the
dining facility right beside us was OK, but as more people
came in it started becoming loaded down and they didn't
have other dining facilities to open. They were rebuilding
a lot of stuff, because all of the barracks that we were in
were left over from basic training, 10 or 15 years prior.
So there was a lot of issues. One of the issues that we
had in the barracks was sicknesses. We had quite a bit of
sickness because of the state that the barracks were in.
There was a lot of dust and things like that, which became
a problem. Some of that was because of the cold, but a lot

014561
17

A: That became a problem. With the HHD, for example, mostly

because they weren't used to firing in the cold. So we had
11 people that didn't qualify on M-16. Everybody got

through the 9 mil. A couple of the companies, I think the

223 had trouble qualifying on their Mark 19s because they

didn't have the night vision equipment that they were

supposed to, the brackets that allow them to mount it onto

their Mark 19s, so they couldn't night qualify. Another

problem that happened towards the end of our period at Fort

Dix, they started running out of ammunition, so not

everybody got qualified on the 203 until the very end. So

one company was getting ready to get on the plane, and

hadn't qualified, hadn't finished qualifying on the 203's,

and so they finally got the ammo for them and got them

qualified and get them out the door.

Q: And what about with your NBC training? Was there a lot
(inaudible) emphasis on NBC training this time?

A: There was. The JLIST(?) suit was hit pretty heavily. Some
of us old folks had never been in a JLIST(?) suit. But the
garrison had that pretty covered. I think they did a good
job on training them on that. We had a few people that
needed larger masks and larger suits, so that become a
problem. But other than that, NBC was well taken care of.

Q: And how long did it take to get those extra suits in, and

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014563
19

masks, while you were there?
A: We already had the suits. Actually, we had the suits
before we came.
Q: The special-order suits.
A: Oh, the special orders. We left, I believe, two people
behind waiting on either masks or JLIST suits. One of them
never deployed medically. The other came probably a couple
weeks after we deployed.
Q: OK, Sergeant Major. Going into your early growing pains of
bringing your three companies together under the battalion,
did you have any guidance or especial instruction to your
senior NCO staff or any other situations that may have
occurred in the development of the whole battalion under
your command?
A: Yeah, one of the things that the battalion started doing
when we first got there was having staff meetings with the
whole staff. And so the staff got used to the companies
and the companies got used to the staff. After each
meeting, I would get together with the first sergeants and
meet with them, and so I got to know the first sergeants.
One of the companies had a problem with the first sergeant,
because they had an E-7 as an acting first sergeant, and
they brought in an E-8 for the first sergeant slot that
ended up becoming a P-3, and so he was non-deployable, and
01450 4 20

so they brought in another guy. Well, they ended up having

three first sergeants. But I think it worked out. Through

the whole time I was talking to each of the first sergeants

in that company to get to know them and to ensure that the

troops were being taken care of, in all three cases they

had strong NCOs, so the company felt like they were taken

care of with their first sergeant. I don't think there was

any animosity that the guy that, the E-7 that was the

original first sergeant, was not able to deploy as a first

sergeant. I thought they brought in a good choice for the

first sergeant that actually deployed with them. But as

far as the cadre is concerned, I think just meeting with

the first sergeants, having good first sergeants was

advantageous to me.

Q: Sergeant Major, as the force protection(?) finished and the
SRP's been finished, now we're in the stage of getting your
equipment to baggaged(?) and loaded, ready to ship. How
did that go, and how did your equipment ship?

A: The equipment that came on flatbeds had to be loaded into
conexes(?), so we had to get conexes(?) for that. They
shipped those to us and we ended up having to reload some
of the equipment that was in other conexes(?) into those,
as well as the flatbed equipment. And so that was an issue
of time and getting the troops to the conexes(?) to load.

014565
21

All of our vehicle assets were taken from us about the
third day of getting to Fort Dix. They were prepared for
shipping, and so we never saw our vehicles, and that's why
Fort Dix had to supply all the transportation. We were
able to use all our weapons for qualification, except for a
few of the (inaudible) weapons, because that was late in
the training cycle. And so we ended up having to crate
those up to put on the aircraft. And so the 249s were the
only ones that we weren't able to qualify on those weapons.
That's not critical with those, because you don't have to
zero with those. So that was the thing (inaudible).
Q: And in the crating of all your equipment and so forth, did
that harm your training at Fort Dix?
A: It delayed some, but I don't believe it harmed the
training, no.
Q: And exactly when did they ship the equipment from your
remote station?
A: Most of the equipment went out several weeks before we
left, probably about three weeks before we left. Some of
the -- all but a couple of the containers, I believe, were
shipped by ship, and then we had another container that was
shipped by air. So most of it went out several weeks
before we left. Our weapons were carried on the aircraft,
though, that we flew on.
12;163a6 22

were leaving and there was no return at that point. You're

going over into what was possibly a worse situation, you

know your purpose of coming over. Did the soldiers talk

among themselves on what your expectations were in getting

into a hostile situation?

A: Yeah. As a matter of fact, the Colonel and I got together
with each of the companies individually and talked about
our mission, what we were going to be going into, where we
were going, and that sort of thing. We still couldn't
really say that we were going into Iraq, but they knew were
were coming over to deploy. They knew we were coming here,
so they knew what we were doing. It's pretty obvious,
because we're an IR battalion, which is EPW, so they know
that they're going to be running an EPW encampment. So
they know what their mission is. They just didn't know
where they were going to do it. I think those talks with
the Colonel and myself at the companies really gave the
companies a sense that we were giving them the information
that we knew. And that is something that we've carried on
since we've been here, was trying to keep the troops
information. I call them my fireside chats. So honestly,
we've been keeping them informed. That way, they're going
to perform better for you if they know what's ahead of
them.

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DOD-018179
Q: OK. I'm going to stop just a moment. (pause) OK, Sergeant

Major, you've now finished everything in your mobe station

over at Fort Dix, and you're on your way over to Kuwait and

Arifjan. Can you tell me when your arrival date was?

A: It was actually three flights from the battalion. The
first one, we were the first one to leave on the 822. The
commander and myself, the S3, the XO. About five of us
from the battalion and the 822 left on the seventh, on the
sixth actually, and we flew to Ireland. We actually got
stuck there a night, because they didn't have (inaudible)
to fly over Saudi Arabia, so that was pretty nice because
they put us up and that was a hidden enjoyment that we got.
The rest of the battalion and the other companies flew
after us on two different flights, and they both arrived
before we did. And so, we got to Arifjan on the seventh of
February, or actually flew in to the airport, to the APOD,
on the seventh at about three in the morning and then got
to Arifjan later that morning. So all of us were on the
ground by the seventh of February.

Q: So what kind of conditions did you have when you came to
Camp Arifjan?

A: They put us in a warehouse with 1200 of our closest
friends, so were basically in warehouses on cots with all
of our equipment. And at the time, it wasn't really hot,

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25
so it wasn't that bad. They'd get cold at night, actually,
so you'd have to bundle up at night. And depending,
sandstorms, it wasn't that bad.
Q: And when you arrived in Arifjan, were your vehicles and all
your other assets, were they already here for you?
A: They followed about two weeks after. About a week after,
actually.
Q: And during that time, what did you do, as far as the
different companies? What did they do as far as occupying
their time while you were here?
A: After our vehicles got there, we actually took on some
missions. We had one company that was starting the APOD.
We had another company starting the SPOD. We had some
troops that went out on a ship, guarding ammunition on a
ship, I think about 10 or 15 guys that did that. We also
had the TSB, the ammunition point, and some force
protection. We did quite a bit, because we were the first
MP battalion on the ground with equipment. The 220th
Brigade hadn't got in theater yet. They were the force
protection MPs, and so we were doing quite a bit of
everything. We also did quite a few escort missions where
we'd have to drive people back and forth to different
locations. When the (inaudible) first got on ground, the
223 Escort Company escorted them to -- it was New Jersey,
014570 26

inside the perimeter of the compound. So they're external

to the -- we have individual compounds that have 500 DPW's
in them. And then you have the camp, which is where the
guard companies guard. So the 822 and the 267 are the two
guard companies. And the 223 is the escort guard company.
Their task is to go get the prisoners from the four holding
areas and bring them back to the camp. Does that make it
clear?
Q: Yes.
A: OK.
Q: And when they were starting their beginning missions at
Camp Arifjan, you already mentioned that they were at the
APOD, SPOD, shipped ASP(?). Were there any issues that
they had to deal with that were foreign to them originally
and that now they are learning as they go?
A: Not really, because their MPs are trained to do those types
of missions. That's not the mission that they were
designed to do here. But they're all trained for force
detection and law and order and all of that sort of thing.
So they were well-versed on how to do that, and some of the
feedback that we got from these different entities said
that they were really pleased with the MPs being there.
The APOD in particular, the APOD and the SPOD, for example,
had infantry soldiers that were doing force protection
30

before the MPs got there, and the comments were that they

were glad to see MPs because MPs had the force behind them,
so to speak. They're aggressive and in-force protection,
so they're not afraid to stop people and do MP types of
things, where infantry are not used to doing that. So they
were glad to see the MPs on the ground doing that sort of
thing.
Q: And when your three different companies started some of the
escort services, what kinds of units were they escorting,
and what were they escorting them to?
A: Initially, some of the infantry, some of the maneuver units
that were coming onto the ground and going to their
particular camps, Camp New York, Camp New Jersey, and those
types of camps which were up in the northern part of
Kuwait.
Q: And do you recall what those units were?
A: One of the first was the big unit(?) that came on the
ground and we had to escort up. And then there were some
other escorts for log packs(?) and things like that, up to
the various camps. Nothing in Iraq yet, because the ground
war hadn't started yet. So, everything was around the
country. But it was kind of a little bit of everything,
mostly log packs(?) and some of the units that were going
to different camps. And actually, from the APOD it was
014575
31

equipment that was procured for the EPW camps. Not just

the camp here, but there was originally going to be three

camps. That would be up to ten or more battalions, so

there was quite a bit of equipment (inaudible). That

included concertina(?) wire, the 10-inch water MREs, and

that sort of thing. Things to build the camp with,

including...

Q: So in those 600 containers, you would basically be self-
contained, everything moves with you, so that you could
truly function on your own without any separate assets?

A: Well, actually not, because all of those containers had to
be moved by transportation, so that was a nightmare getting
them up first to Coyote. That took -- I think we went up
to Coyote about three or four weeks before we actually
moved into Iraq. Three weeks, I believe. I'm not real
sure on that. And they began moving the conexes(?)
immediately. We never got all of the conexes up there,
because of the transportation issues. When the ground war
started, a lot of times the transportation assets would be
cut from us so they could get equipment up to the

(inaudible) and things like that, so that was quite a
logistical nightmare that we had to contend with, trying to
get our equipment to the right place. Everything was
staged in Coyote prior to -- the idea was to get everything

(./ i A r-1 13
33

and what was the means for them not choosing it, or

changing it?

A: Well, that was one of the things that happened. We were
supposed to leave on D-plus-four, originally. We got
delayed to D-plus-five, because there was some talk about
moving us further north. The reason all of this took place
is because originally we were going to follow the first

(inaudible), and they were going to establish a corps
holdingarea. The Fifth Corps was going to establish
another corps holdingarea. The British were going to
establish a corps holdingarea here. What had happened was,
when we first went across, we were expecting up to 20,000
prisoners the first couple of days. That didn't happen.
We had very few prisoners. We had a couple of thousand
prisoners in the first few days of fighting. And so they
talked about sending, putting the F(?) further north, like,
towards Khalil Airport, somewhere up there. But that area
was still hot. So the original site that we were going to
be, which was that position off of the Euphrates River, is
where we moved to on D-plus-six. And that was a good site,
because it was nice and flat and there were already, I
don't know what the berms(?) were used for, but there were
already ready-made berms that we could build our camp
inside of. So that was an advantage that we would've had,

01.1580 36
because it would've knocked about a week off of the
building process, and we could've had the internment
facility up in less than 30 days. So that was another
reason they selected that site. When we got there, that
was the Marine sector. The Marines were supposed to build
their corps holdingarea pretty close to where we were.
They reneged on their agreement to build their corps
holdingarea, and they decided to move north towards
Baghdad. So the reason we had to move was because we were
kind of left in the open and no protection. The Fifth
Corps was to our left, and the British were further to our
south. And then also, in addition to that, we were in two
different bands of artillery, so we were kind of in a
position of hostile area, I guess.

Q: So at the time, you were at the first camp, Buca(?),
Buca(?) One. There was artillery and other explosions in
your area?

A: We never say artillery. They never fired artillery. We
had some small arms. The day that we got into Iraq, we
stayed at the corps holding area, the Marine Corps holding
area, and went to our site the next day. I heard small
arms fire at the Corps holding area for the Marines. We
didn't see anything, quite literally, on that first day
that we got to Buca(?), because we got hit by a really bad

(11 Ar,Q1
37

the time. And then we got our bearings in the camp and
began building the camp from there. We were there about a
week. That's about the time the Marines decided that they
were going to go north and they started looking for another
area to (inaudible). We selected this area because it was
-- the British Corps holding area was already here. They
had about, let me see. They had just under 2,000 prisoners
when we got here. That's about three hours from Buca(?)
One to Buca(?) Two, I guess you might say. Or this is at
Camp Buca now. This is about three hours south, plus it
was near Umpresar(?), so the thinking was we already had
four holding areas, so we could use that as our holding
area, build the (inaudible) closer to the border. We were
right on the Iraq border, so we're close. We had the
logistical support that we need, and it was a better site
as far as communication, getting signal back to the base
camp.

Q: While you were at Camp Coyote, what type of missions were
your soldiers taking -- what type of missions were your
soldiers performing at that time?

A: At Coyote we were still doing the escorts. We had pulled
out of all the other missions and the APOD and the SPOD,
and the boats and things like that. So the only mission we
had was some escort. We had a platoon still left at

in Aron.
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39

Arifjan from the 265 that was doing escort between Arifjan
and Camp Coyote. Mostly for us. Until the war's over.
Q: And then who are you escorting from Camp Coyote? Where
were you taking them?
A: Well, from Arifjan to Coyote, we were escorting the
equipment. The conexes(?) were being...
Q: But once you got to Camp Coyote, were you escorting any
troops or equipment from that point further?

A: No, that was all stopped prior to the war. About a week
before the war. So our only mission was preparation for
the war.

Q: I see. So when you arrived here at Buca(?) Two, where we
are currently, what was the condition of the camp?

A: It was pretty desolate. There was quite a bit of shrubs
and the ground was not flat like the first Buca(?) was. A
lot of insects, a lot of flies. You didn't see flies up in
Buca(?) One. You saw a lot of that here. When we
initially built the camp, we had to build the latrines and
things like that, so we got hit by disease. They call it
the (inaudible) virus, hit pretty bad. And we had
sometimes up to 30 or 40 soldiers that came down with this
bug, and it would hit you for about three or four days.
Several people had to have injections of fluids put in
their body and things like that. So that was one of the

40

were just trying to establish the adder(?), the logistical

support. They were already building the camp, and so they

were having a lot of problems with Iraqi units up in al-

Nasriye(?) and surrounding areas, and so they were trying

to protect them.

Q: OK. Did your troops take on any small arms or any kind of
other fire while they were up there?

A: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Nobody ever got hurt. Nobody ever came
under first and was ever wounded in the 724th Battalion. I
believe that to be a blessing for us. They did see quite a
bit. They didn't come -- I don't know if they came under
direct fire from an enemy unit. They saw quite a few
rockets and things like that, mortar rounds and small arms
shooting at them. They were at (inaudible) so they were
pretty well-protected there. We saw some when we came down
here. When we first got to Buca(?) One, Buca(?) Two
rather, we saw more hostile action here than we did at Buca
One, even though that was considered a more dangerous area.
When we first got here, we saw some RPG rounds into the
camp, and mortar rounds, and small arms, and things like
that. A couple of scuds, but actually, the Iraqis were
really lousy shots, so they never hit anything. We had --
the day that we got here, the next morning, they shot, I
think they call it a Silkworm missile flew over our head.

Arz n
u 41

A: Most of the prisoners were taken either by the infantry or

by the surrounding units, because they were guarding the

camp. The corps holdingarea was there, so they would

immediately put them in the corps holdingarea. And then

the 223 also had the escort mission to bring them down to

our camp. That didn't happen for several days, because we

had to set up our camp. They had the two corps holding

areas, the Fifth Corps holding area and the British Corps

holding area.

Q: So at these holding areas, were your soldiers doing any
guard work at those, or that was handled by the British and
the Fifth Corps?

A: Mostly by the British and the Fifth Corps. They started,
we took the mission for the Fifth Corps after about a week
or so. The 320th Battalion came, and came into the theater
without equipment. And so when we came to Buqa Two, about
a couple of days after we got here, they started coming in
as well. They took over the corps holding area from the
British eventually. So the 724th had the force protection
of the camp at that time, until the IF(?) was broken.

Q: And in building the IF(?), what exactly did you have to do?
What procedures did you follow?

A: The engineers, the 46th Engineer Battalion, built the --
leveled the ground and started putting in the plumbing and

r n
1,1 Ji..`A.0
44

things like that, the electrical. And then we came behind

them and we put up all the pickets and all the wire and the
tents. We didn't put the tents up. But we put the tents
in the compounds, and then when we started bringing the
prisoners, they had to put up the tents.
Q: And the fortification of the camp, did you also have to
take care of that, or what condition was it when you had
taken it over from the British, as to what you had to do to
refortify it?
A: Are you talking about Buca itself?
Q: Yes.
A: The engineers came in the same time we did, and they pushed
berms up to protect us on the perimeters. We still had
British patrolling, so we didn't take full -- we didn't
take the perimeter guard until several days after we got
here, because we were still building up our camp. We put
up a few more fighting positions around the perimeter,
along the berms and things like that. So basically, we had
force(?) protection around the perimeter of the camp, and
then the British took all the patrols and things like that
when they were still (inaudible).
Q: Did you have to put up additional barbed wire, concertina
wire?
A: Not at that point, no.
,A fir ,-, -4
-•1.4)3 45

Q: Did you eventually do that, though?

A: We actually, it became a problem because we had civilians
coming into the camp. So that's why we put up the barbed
wire. The state of Umkasar(?), Umkasar(?) wasn't
completely cleared when we came in, or maybe 15 miles from
Umkasar(?). And Basra was still, was under fire. They
were still trying to take Basra, which is about 30 to 60
miles north of here. I'm not sure how far it is. So there
was quite a bit of activity in the area. So the British
were pretty heavy down in this area, to protect us. The
only types of things that we saw in the camp itself were
mostly RPG rounds and mortar. We never -- we were never
under fire as far as the unit trying to take us or
anything. It was mostly harassment and things like that.

Q: So there were small individual bands of individuals trying
to cause destruction.

A: Right. They did fire -- they fired, I know, two Scuds that
tried to hit the camp. They were trying to make the
Americans look bad, that we're supposed to protect DPWs and
they were able to kill them. So basically that's what they
tried to do. One of them hit in the water, out in the
Gulf, and the other hit about, I think it was 200 meters or
so from us. It was terribly close. I think they did that
on a couple of occasions, actually. Not really that close

014590 46

which is south of (inaudible). The IF(?) was extremely

large, and originally they were going to build four IFs(?)

on this camp site, four battalions to run all the APWs that

we initially thought we were going to get. As time went

on, it became obvious that we weren't going to take on

nearly the number of prisoners that we probably were going

to have. We thought upwards of 100,000 first, before the

war started. As the war started, we thought as many as

20,000 to 40,000. So the original design was to have four

IF internment facility camps in this site. When we didn't

have the prisoners, they went to two. And since then, the

second one has been scrubbed so there's only been one camp

built. So we started building the first camp. The

engineers had ten days to build their portion of the camp,

and then they turned it over to us, and we started putting

the pickets up and everything like that so we could start

putting the prisoners in.

Q: OK. You'd said that you placed the (inaudible) in the
different portions of the compound. What size are each of
the compounds, and who (inaudible)?

A: Each of the compounds, there are 12 compounds in the IF, in
the facility. Each of the compounds will hold, normally

(inaudible) takes 500 prisoners per compound. We were
thinking that we would have to increase that size because

014502
48

enlisted, and civilians into those types of groups. And

third-country nationals, also, third-world nationals. So
each of the compounds have a different group of people.
The first one, like I said, were the officers. They were
pretty docile. Actually, most of the prisoners that we got
initially were soldiers that gave up, that didn't want to
fight. So they were pretty docile and didn't cause us a
lot of problems. So after we filled that camp, we started
with the enlisted, and then eventually took on the
civilians. And as time went on, we started picking up
criminals and things like that. War criminals, and
civilian criminals as well. So it's quite a mix right now.
Q: When you picked up the different war prisoners, what are
the standards, or what are the guidelines of holding
prisoners according to the Geneva Convention? What are the
guidelines?
A: They have to be given quarters that are similar to ours.
They have to fed similar to us. They have to have latrine
facilities and water and that sort of thing. So basically
same thing we have, we have to give them. They have to
have food and shelter while taking care of them.
Q: Are you required to give them so many meals per day?
A: Yes, two. I think we're feeding them three times a day.
We are feeding them three times a day now. Initially, I

534 50

think they were feeding them two times a day.

Q: And with feeding them, did you have to give them certain
types of food that are to their culture?
A: Yeah, that was all handled before we got there, actually.
The British had already set up a contract with Brown and
Root -- or with somebody, I'm not sure if it was Brown and
Root -- that gave them some biscuits in the morning, some
fruit. I'm not sure exactly what all they got in the
morning. In the evening they got a soup that was made with
rice and vegetables, and again, some fruit and biscuits.
So they're well-fed, actually. Some of them were fed way
better than they were before the war. So that's one of the
things we do is measure their weight and see how much
weight they gain.
Q: So you actually weighed them as they come in?
A: Oh, yeah, that's part of the process.
Q: OK, Sergeant Major, you have several different units that
are in different areas which you mentioned to me. The 882,
I believe you said, was up at Taril(?). You had another
unit that was over in Camp Coyote. And now you have other
units that are at Camp Buca(?). How are you arranging
their locations, and are they eventually all coming here at
Camp Buca(?)?
A: Yeah, that was a problem when we first got here. Force
0 1 4 5 95 51

protection -- in the force protection arena, we had limited

folks to do the force protection, because we still had --

the 822 is still in Talil(?), the whole company. We had

another platoon of 223 in Talil(?) as well. And we had a

platoon of the 267 in Coyote and a platoon of the 267 in

Arifjan. They were still doing -- 267 was still doing the

escorts, bringing the equipment up to Coyote and then into

the camp itself, so that was an important piece. The force

protections of Talil(?) and (inaudible) is taxing

(inaudible). Eventually, we ended up pulling the 822 back,

because as time went on our mission to run the IF became

more and more important, because (inaudible) Baghdad until

we got rid of prisoners that were (inaudible) as in

Talil(?). So we were pretty much holding up the third

infantry division and the British down here. They couldn't
release the British until we established the IF and started

taking the (inaudible). And so those particular pieces

became more important, so as that happened they got other

designs(?) on the ground, and the 744th Battalion replaced

our two companies up in Talil(?), and so we've got to move

them back down.

Q: Here at Camp Buca(?), now that you're here and the units
are all coming into line and your mission is becoming more
apparent, what has actually been your mission statement

596. 52
here at Camp Buca?

A: Our mission is to process all the prisoners according to
the processing software that's dictated by the Department
of the Army and CENECOM(?). After they're processed,
they're held, they're processed into the camp and they're
housed in the camp and then they're taken care of. They're
protected from the enemy. They're protected from
themselves. That how we separate them. We protect them,
that's the mission of our large companies as well. Part of
the mission is to escort the prisoners from the corps
holdingareas to the camps. After they're in the camp, and
the declaration of the end of the war, or hostilities, then
we begin outprocessing them as well. So they have to go
through interviews and tribunals to make sure that they're
not somebody that we need to hold because of war crimes.
In other words, we determined their status. And then we
repatriate all the prisoners. And that process is still
going on. At the cessation of hostilities, one of the
first things we did was determine who the civilians were
and started releasing the civilians. And so, basically,
that's our mission, is to run a DPW camp and process all
the prisoners, account for all the prisoners.

Q: And what was the highest number of prisoners that you had
here at the camp at one time?

014597
53

kind of procedures do you have to follow? Do you have to

report the -- how is this reported, and how is this taken

care of?

A: First of all, we have strict guidelines as to rules of
engagement. We can't shoot and kill a prisoner just
because he's attacking. It has to be a threat on our life,
or they have to escaping over the berm. The reason we have
to stop a prisoner from going over the berm is they can
give intelligence to enemy units and they can attack

(inaudible) take over the IF. The doctrine is to shoot any
prisoner trying to escape. The (inaudible) barrier. Other
than that, we have less than lethal weapons that we use to
stop prisoners. One of the things we can not do is abuse
prisoners in any way, so we have to use the minimal force
in stopping a prisoner, in other words, and that's what we
try to do.

Q: And when some of these prisoners come in, are they in good
health? Or are they in situations where they may have
problems with health? Or they have their own wounds that
you have to take care of?

A: Many. We are not supposed to...

END OF TAPE

55

DOD-018210

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