Taguba Report Annex 54: Testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Leigh A. Coulter, Commander, 724th Military Police Battalion

Testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Leigh A. Coulter, Commander, 724th Military Police Battalion. He stated that when he arrived at Camp Bucca "I never got anything in writing. Verbally, we were told to follow the Geneva Convention, in terms of the treatment of prisoners. The Rules of Engagement (ROE) was a policy put out in writing, in terms of what the Rules of Engagement were at Camp Bucca. That was basically it. I asked the Brigade for certain things in writing, but didn't get them. I can't answer why". He further stated "I think I did well, as a Commander. I had no problems with detainee abuse. We were the
first ones to operate a theatre internment facility, which we built with the Engineers...We had no serious problems with detainees. We treated them humanely, and I tried to emphasize that, as much as I could." and "I would re-emphasize the Geneva Hague Convention in staff meetings, and I would visit
the companies on a monthly basis, to discuss those things. I would tell them, that our mission wasn't really rocket science. The way we were going to be successful was to treat the detainees humanely, and to keep them in the wire until it's time to let them go. I would try to get those 2 points across, as much as I could".

Doc_type: 
Transcript
Doc_date: 
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Doc_rel_date: 
Monday, October 18, 2004
Doc_text: 

On 14 February 2004, a team of officers, directed by Major General Antonio Taguba, conducted the following interview. Major General Taguba was appointed as an Investigating Officer under the provisions of Army Regulation 15-6, by Lieutenant General David D. McKiernan, Commanding General of the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC), to look into allegations of maltreatment of detainees, detainee escapes and accountability lapses, at Abu Gharib, also known as the Baghdad Central Confinement Facility (BCCF). The panel also inquired into training, standards, employment, command policies, and internal policies, concerning the detainees held at Abu Gharib prison. Finally, the panel looked into the command climate and the command and supervisory presence
The following persons were present:
COL , MP, CFLCC — PMO, Interviewer
LT 705th MP Battalion, Interviewer
MAJ JA, — SJA, Interviewer
LTC , 800th MP Brigade, Respondent

The interview is summarized as follows:
I a ieutenant Colonel. I'm attached to the 800th MP Brigade, currently assigne in fjan Kuwait. My social security number
I was Battalion Commander of the 724th MP Battalion from February 2003 until August 2003. We were here until March, and went forward the 2nd day after the war started, and built the first internment facility at Camp Bucca. We initially went just south of Talil for one week, and then were told to move south to Umm Qasr, to take over Camp Freddy, and build the internment facility, there.
Policies and procedures were flowing from Brigade down, because COL methe Camp Commander, was there on site, and he was basically running how things were operating, there. I never got anything in writing. Verbally, we were told to follow the Geneva Convention, in terms of the treatment of prisoners. The ROE was a policy put out in writing, in terms of what the Rules of Engagement were at Camp Bucca. That was basically it. I asked the Brigade for certain things in writing, but didn't get them. I can't answer why.
COLIMIlleft in September. I was there until August. BG Hill was in command until the end of June, BG Karpinski the last 6 weeks I was there. She came to visit with BG Hill, before she took command. The next time was when I had my Change of Command. I changed command with LTC BG Karpinski asked me to change command with him. He was my board-selected replacement. I was at the end of my 3­year command, and this would give him an opportunity to have some active duty time.
I think I did well, as a Commander. I had no problems with detainee abuse. We were the first ones to operate a theatre internment facility, which we built with the Engineers. My
Ar4 1.4 e-X. S y
MP's pounded all the pickets, laid all the wire. We had no serious problems with
detainees. We treated them humanely, and I tried to emphasize that, as much as I could.
I had 2 escapes in July. That was it. There was some minor misconduct in the unit. I
gave one Article 15 for a negligent discharge at Ari fj an. The Brigade did a 15-6
investigation on the 2 escapes.
I don't know of a 15-6 initiated against me. Okay, back in June, some people made an
issue of me being friendly with another officer in the Brigade. That was it. No action
was taken.
My battalion has had some training in their present mission. I would rate them as a T3.
Now, they're probably a Ti.
I would re-emphasize the Geneva Hague Convention in staff meetings, and I would visit the companies on a monthly basis, to discuss those things. I would tell them, that our mission wasn't really rocket science. The way we were going to be successful was to treat the detainees humanely, and to keep them in the wire until it's time to let them go. I would try to get those 2 points across, as much as I could.
I never used the conex for segregating detainees. It was used by the 320th, I believe,
when they were over at Camp Freddy. There weren't a lot of choices. I don't think it
was the best-case scenario, to isolate someone, but there weren't a lot of choices. I would
say it wasn't the best-case scenario, because it's a conex. It's metal, it doesn't have
ventilation, and it doesn't have a bathroom. I don't think they were using them late into
the year. When we isolated prisoners, we put them in a tent. Then, we built what we
called "Iraqatraz," and put them inside a building, in their own individual cell.
"Iraqatraz" was at Camp Bucca, in a building adjacent to the Brigade TOC. I was
directed by BG Hill and BG Ecke, to construct something in there, so i had my R&U
Officer build 12 different cells.
The MI had a separate area. I didn't provide them soldiers from my battalion.
I think our soldier strength was adequate. It wasn't 100 percent, but soldiers weren't put
in jeopardy. We didn't put low-density MOS's into Military Police roles.
After my Change of Command, I was the Rear OIC of the Brigade footprint at Arifjan. My Battalion was war-traced to the 800th. The METL approval process went through the peacetime chain. An informational copy went to Brigade.
Like COL said, "A message can be changed, or misconstrued, if it's too cumbersome." tried to keep my message simple, something that could be delivered down to the lowest soldier.
We had movies for them. We had games for them. I interviewed them through our PSYOPS teams, to find out what their needs were. I would talk to the compound mayors.
We made sure they were fed, had their cigarette rations, and religious support. And, of
course, kept them in the wire. If we failed at either of those, then we failed.
I knew what my priorities were. I was at the end of my tenure. I know what the Geneva Convention is, and I know the sensitivity toward treating prisoners. All of us up the chain would emphasize the treatment of prisoners and the Geneva Convention. We know what guidelines we're under, 190-8, the Geneva Convention, and the FM for UR Operations. All of those things talk about how we treat prisoners, and what we're supposed to provide for them.
I was inside the compound with my solders everyday. I wouldn't spend a lot of time in there, because the detainees would get excited, knowing I was the Camp Commander, they would come running out. That made everyone's job harder. But, I did want to show a presence, to support the soldiers. I instructed my company commanders to do the same.
I never got any negative feedback from Red Cross, in terms of our operation, the whole time I was there. They did want us to move the detainees into the warehouses at the port, but after a risk assessment we recommended to BG Hill not to do it. My recommendation was to mitigate the heat, by providing ice, solar shades, shorts, and things like that, which is what we ended up doing.
There were no allegations of EPW abuse by soldiers in my command. I found out, by watching the ticker on FOX, that LG Sanchez initiated an investigation into prisoner abuse at a Baghdad Prison. I assumed it was Abu.
You have to create an atmosphere of zero tolerance, everybody has to understand the message, and you have to have a presence. I live 3 miles away from where my battalion is in Fort Lauderdale, and I'm there a lot. It makes a difference, as opposed to emailing or calling them.
Finished with their discussion, COLIftgave LTC questions, to be addressed, and brought back on a Sworn Statement.
SWORN STATEMENT
For use of this form, see AR 190-45; the proponent agency is ODCSOPS
PRIVACY ACT STATEMENT
AUTHORITY: Title 10 USC Section 301; Title 5 USC Section 2951; E.O. 9397 dated November 22. 1941. ISSN.
PRINCIPAL PURPOSE: To provide commanders and law enforcement officials with means by which information may oe accura -e.l
ROUTINE USES: Your social secunty number is used as en additional/alternate means of identification to facuitaie filing and retrieve
DISCLOSURE: Disclosure of your social security number is voluntary.
1. LOCATION 1 2. DATE IVY YYMMDD/ 3 TIME 4 FILE NUMBEF
CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT 2004/02/14 2000
IDDLE NAME 6. SSN 7 GRADE'STATUS
05

8. ORGANIZATION OR ADDRESS
800TH MILITARY POLICE BRIGADE CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT 09366
. WANT TO MAKE THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT UNDER OATH:

I. HOW DID I COMMUNICATE MY POLICIES AS PATTALION COMMANDER OF THE 724TH MP BN .
I COMMUNICATED MY POLICIES IN SEVERAL WAYS. I WAS FORTUNATE THAT 1 MOBILIZED AND
DEPLOYED WITH MY THREE MP CO'S TOGETHER AT FT DIX, NJ. WE STAYED TOGETHER THROUGHOUT THE
DEPLOYMENT SO THERE WAS CONTINUITY OF LEADERSHIP. I IMMEDIATELY ENACTED NIGHTLY STAFF
MEETINGS TO DISCUSS TRAINING AND OTHER COMMAND ISSUES.THESE MEETINGS INCLUDED ALL PRIMARY
STAFF, COMMANDERS AND SENIOR NCO'S. I DELIVERED THE MESSAGE FORM THE START THAT WE ARE
GOVERNED BY AR 190-8, THE GENEVA CONVENTION CONCERNING THE HUMANE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS
AND THE IR FIELD MANUAL. WE HAD A CLASS AT FT DIX ON THE LAW OF WAR AND THE GENEVA
CONVENTION. I HAD COUNSELLING SESSIONS WITH ALL MY COMMANDERS . I GAVE THEM MY OER SUPPORT
FORM SO THEY WOULD KNOW WHAT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME AND THEY COULD ADOPT THE SAME. I
EXPECTED THEM TO REITERATE THESE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES TO THEIR UNITS. MY BN WAS THE FIRST IR
BN TO ENTER THEATRE. WE IMMEDIATELY ASSUMED MISSIONS IN KUWAIT GUARDING THE ASP, THE SPOD
AND PROVIDING TROOP ESCORTS FROM THE THEATRE. WE MOVED FORWARD TO CAMP COYOTE IN MID
MARCH TO PREPARE THE UNIT TO CROSS THE LZ AND ACCLIMATIZE TO THE ENVIRONMENT. I STRESSED TO
THE UNIT AT EVERY CHANCE I HAD THAT OUR MISSION WAS NOT "ROCKET SCIENCE" AND THAT WE WOULD
BE SUCCESSFUL BY, ONE, KEEPING THE PRISONERS 114 THE WIRE UNTIL THEY WERE RELEASED AND TWO, BY
TREATING THEM HUMANELY. I DID THIS BY VISITING SOLDIERS IN THEIR WORK AREAS ON A DAILY BASIS
SO I WOULD BE VISIBLE TO THEM AND APPROACHABLE. I BELIEVE THE MESSAGE WAS SUCCESSFULLY
DELIVERED TO THE SOLDIERS OF THE 724TH BECAUSE WE HAD ZERO INSTANCES OF ABUSE IN OVER NINE
MONTHS OF GUARDING PRISONERS.

2. WHAT WAS BG HILLS' AND BG KARPINSKI'S COMMAND PHILOSOPHY' )
A WRITTEN COMMAND PHILOSOPHY WAS NOT DISTRIBUTED BY EITHER BRIGADE COMMANDER. I DID HAVE AN INITIAL COUNSELLING SESSION WITH BG HILL. I DID NOT HAVE AN INITIAL COUNSELLING SESSION WITH BG 1CARP1NSla WHEN SHE TOOK COMMAND NOR WHEN I MOVED TO ARIFJAN AS THE BDE REAR OIC. I BELIEVE IT WAS UNDERSTOOD AS A BN COMMANDER THAT WE WERE GOVERNED BY AR 190-8, THE GENEVA CONVENTION ON THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS. COM. WAS THE CAMP COMMANDER AT CAMP BUCCA AND RAN THE BDE OPERATION FROM THERE. BG 'INSKI CAME TO BUCCA WITH BG HILL BEFORE THE CHANGE OF COMMAND IN JUNE. MY STAFF BRIEFED HER THEN. SHE CAME BACK IN AUGUST FOR MY
CHANGE OF COMMAND.
3. EXPLAIN YOUR TENURE AS COMMANDER OF THE 724TH AND THE TIME PERIOD ATTACHED TO THE 800TH
MP BDE.
I TOOK COMMAND OF THE 724TH MP BN IN DEC 2000. I WAS THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE BN FOR TWO YEARS BEFORE THAT. I EXPERIENCED AT LEAST THREE EPW EXERCISES IN MY TENURE TO INCLUDE, GOLD SWORD, PLATINUM SWORD AND SILVER SWORD. ONE YEAR THE UNIT WENT TO LEAVENWORTH FOR A CONFINEMENT MISSION AND ANOTHER YEAR THEY PERFORMED BASE DEFENSE RIGHT AFTER 9/11 AT OPACKA LACKA AIR FIELD IN MIAMI, FL. EVEN WITH NORMAL SOLDIER TRANSITIONS FROM THE UNIT I BELIEVE WE WERE FAIRLY WELL TRAINED IN OUR MISSION AS AN IR BN. WE WERE ALERTED 2 OCT 02,
MOBILIZED 27 DEC 02,DEPLOYED TO FT DIX ON 3 JA 03 AND CAMP ARIFJAN , KUWAIT ON 7 FEB 03. THE UNIT
10. EXHIBIT 11. INI
SON MAKING STATEMENT PAGE 1 OF . PAGES
3_
ADDITIONAL PAGES MUST CONTAIN THE HEADING "STATEME TAKEN AT DATED
THE BOTTOM OF EACH ADDITIONAL PAGE MUST BEAR THE INITIALS
OF THE PERSON MAKING THE STATEMENT, 4ND PAGE NUMBER MUST BE BE INDICATED.
_

, DEC 1998 DA FORM 2823. JUL 72, IS OBSOLETE USAPA V1 00
USE THIS PAGE IF NEEDED. IF THIS PAGE IS NOT NEEDED. PLEASE PROCEED TO FINAL PAGE OF THIS FORM .
STATEMEII4JO TAKEN AT CAMP ARIFJAN DATED 2004(02/14
9. STATEMENT (Continued)
MOVED FORWARD TO CAMP COYOTE MID MARCH 03. WE CROSSED THE 1Z BOARDER ON D + 3 TO OUR INITIAL TIF SITE JUST SOUTH OF TALLIL AIRFIELD. A WEEK LATER WE WERE ORDERED TO MOVE TO UMM QUASR TO ASSIST THE BRITS AT THE CHA FREDDY AND TO BUILD THE THEATRE IF ADJACENT TO THE CHA IN JULY 1)3 BG KARPINSKI ASKE IF I WOULD CONSIDER CHANGING COMMAND WITH MY BOARD SELECTED REPLACEMENT, LTC WHO WAS IN THEATRE WORKING AS THE FORCE PROTECTION OFFICER AT THE SPOD WITH THE 143 NSCOM. I AGREED TO THIS SINCE I WAS AT THE END OF MY THREE YEAR TENURE AND THOUGHT IT WOULD BE ADVANTAGEOUS FOR MYSELF TO ASSUME A POSITION AT THE BDE LEVEL. I ALSO THOUGHT IT WOULD BE FOR ONLY A 2 MONTH PERIOD SINCE THE 1 YR BOG POLICY HAD NOT PASSED YET. I WAS TOLD THAT I WOULD BE ATTACHED ONLY TO THE BDE AND THAT I WOULD REDEPLO) WITH MY BN. I WAS NOT TOLD SPECIFICALLY WHAT 1 WOULI) BE DOING IN THE BDE BUT THERE WERE SEVERAL I CHANGED COMMAND ON 15 AUGUST 03. I THEN *TO KUWAIT AS THE REAR AREA OIC. LT WAS CALLED FORWARD TO BAGHDAD ONCE COL THE DEP CDR LEFT IN SEPT 03. AT THAT POINT LIZED I WOULD STAY IN ARIFJAN AND WORK THE UPPORT ISSUES FROM THE REAR AS WELL AS REDEPLOYMENT PLANNING AND ASSISTANCE FOR BDE UNITS. I WILL NOT HOLD A POSITION WITH THE 800TH MP BDE UPON REDEPLOYMENT AS I LIVE IN FL AND THE BDE IS IN NY I AM CURRENTLY AWAITING THE RESULTS OF THE 06 COMMAND SELECTION BOARD THAT MET THIS MONTH TO DETERMINE MY NEXT ASSIGNMENT.
tOMAiv • r0
(7
INITIALS OF PERSON MAKING STATEMENT
a
PAGE OF PAGES

PAGE 2, DA FORM 2823, DEC 1998
LSAPA VI 00

CCitMO fitlf Lt
TAKEN AT _ DATED
STATEMENT 0
t
vt
9. STATEMENT (Continued)
AFFIDAVIT
_HAVE READ OR HAVE HAD READ TO ME THIS STATEMENT WHICH BEGINS ON PAGE 1,_ . I FULLY UNDERSTAND THE CONTENTS OF THE ENTIRE STATEMENT MADE BY ME. THE STATEMENT IS TRUE. I HAVE INITIALED ALL CORRECTIs S AND HAVE INITIALED THE BOTTOM OF EACH PAGE CONTAINING THE STATEMENT. I HAVE MADE THIS STATEMENT FR•allOUT • - • BENE'. R REWARD, WITHOUT THREAT OF PUNISHMENT. AND WITHOUT COERCION, UNLAWFUL I Cla•iriv_NT .
--4 r._
LT
g Statement)
WITNESSES: Subscribed and sworn to before me. a rson authorized by law t
administer oaths, this I day of , _

, rn%(74-1
at_ 1-S -J
AMSPAffiatillalreNNI./
"IWIRMIMIIINtr"
ORGANIZATION OR ADDRESS mmiste•ng Oath)

1 I "7
ame o erson ring Oath)
P.IDJ A,JVOCI 4e,
ORGANIZATION OR ADDRESS (Authority To Administer Oaths)
!INITIALS OF PERSON MAKING STATEMENT
PAGE.OF j PAGES
USAPA VI 00
PAGE 3, DA FORM 2823, DEC 1998

Doc_nid: 
2550
Doc_type_num: 
79