Taguba Report Annex 77: Testimony of Command Sergeant Major Pascual Cartagena, 800th Military Police Battalion

Testimony of Command Sargent Major Pascual Cartagena, 800th Military Police Battalion. CMS Cartagena stated “I was an Individual Replacement [to the 800th MP Brigade] I was not associated with the 800th MP Brigade prior to this assignment I have not worked with any unit like the 800th MP Brigade, nor do I have any experience with Internment and Resettlement Operations. I was not given any specific guidance as to my responsibilities and duties from anyone in the 800th MP Brigade”. And continued on with “There are certain references, policies, to which the units most abide with. Some of those are the treatment of humans, human rights, Geneva Convention Codes, proper treatment of prisoners per the FM, and standard Army policy regulations, and Army values”. As for his duties once at the unit he said “I did not get out to the battalions as much as I wanted too. The S-3 was shorthanded. During the two month that I was the CSM, I visited the battalions at least once and some of them more than once”. In describing Gen. Karpinski the CMS said “I would describe General Karpinski's leadership style as direct. She is an authoritarian, not a passive leader. When issues are brought to her she is direct”. The CMS continued to describe the command structure of the Brigade and then the interview was concluded.

Saturday, February 14, 2004
Monday, October 18, 2004

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 Ghraib,
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 thL

command and supervisory presence

The following persons were present:

MG Antonio M. Ta uba, DCG-CFLCC, Interviewer

COL , Lackland AFB, TX, Member


SFC U.S. Army MP School, Member

MSG er

The interview is summarized as follows:

I'm Sergea social security
number is am a nterim Brigade CSM, and
by MTOE I'm still also the Brigade Operations Sergeant

I reported to Uniondale New York towards the end of June
last year, 2003. August 3, 2003 I arrived in Kuwait, and
was assigned to the 800 th MP Bri ade. I was an Individual

Replacement, and I replaced SGMMwho retired either
April or May 2003 as the Operations SGM. He retired and I
was sent here to replace him. I was not associated with
the 800th MP Brigade prior to this assignment. I worked up
at Garrison Command at Fort Leonard Wood in the Operations

Section there.

My MOS is 31B, and I have not worked with any unit like the
800th MP Brigade, nor do I have any experience with
Internment and Resettlement Operations. My preparation for
this assignment consisted of reviewing the IR FM, 3-14-90.
I was not given any specific guidance as to my
responsibilities and duties from anyone in the 800 th MP
Brigade. As an Operations Sergeant Major I knew what my

A-t-0-.)(--14 -71
skill sets were. My immediate supervisor was Major
glimmiptI met with the Brigade CSM and we did not

discuss my duties and responsibilities. We discussed that

he wanted me to keep him informed of issues concerning

soldiers and any serious operational issues such as

soldiers being injured or anything he could help out with.

MajorlIMOMMONS did sit down with me once I got up to

Baghdad. He discussed with me that he wanted me to provide

oversight on the NCO part, and I helped draft up FRAGO's,

and he told me to perform the Sergeant Major job.

I used every opportunity to assess my duties and
responsibilities as it related to the 800 th MP Brigade. I
knew that there had been a previous case of detainee abuse
at Camp Bucca, as I heard about that as I was in processing
at Uniondale in New York through conversation with other
members of the unit as well as the local newspapers.

I knew where the battalions where and what their jobs were.
The battalions were set when I arrived in theatre. There
were a few battalion moves between August and January. I
was not involved with their moves. It was already set
before I arrived. Major SOMMINRIMand his assistant OPS
officer did the planning and execution. I did not get
involved with the orders preparation or planning sessions
that Major IMOOMMOMMI was involved in. I was not personally
involved from one mission to the next with the battalions.

A lot of the mission of the 800 th MP Brigade was related to
Internment and Resettlement. Even though parts of the
mission was not doctrinal, there are certain references,
policies, to which the units most abide with. Some of
those are the treatment of humans, human rights, Geneva
Convention Codes, proper treatment of prisoners per the FM,
and standard Army policy regulations, and Army values. I
am vaguely familiar with AR 190-8. I am familiar that the
Geneva Convention needs to be posted where it is visible to
both guard and prisoner and in the language of the prisoner

or detainee.

I am familiar with the established SOP called Detention
ROE. I was not here, but I'm almost positive that there
was ROE training before I arrived. Since I arrived to the
800th MP Brigade, at least one modification to the ROE, and
it was around the November timeframe. It was disseminated
to all of the units via a FRAGO. A new ROE was sent out

and we created some vignettes to go with the new ROE. The
units were instructed to train all personnel in the new ROE
and vignettes, and to ensure that they were posted in all
their guard towers and facilities.

I interacted with each of the battalions Operation
Sergeants frequently, some battalions more than others.
This was due to some battalions Operations Sergeants being
only involved in just tracking movements, and their
officers were more involved with the actual movements. I
was involved with the receipt of reports from the
battalions to the brigade. The principal reports that were
required by the brigade were: SIR's or SALUTE reports, and
these were forwarded up to CJTF-7. Also, Troop to Task
reports were used for the S-3.

Reports involving detainee accountability and management
were rolled by the S-1. The S-1 handled this because it
dealt with personnel not necessarily operations. This may
not be the right answer, but that is the procedure that was
in place when I got to the brigade. Most of the SIR
reports that were submitted involved: IED's, mortar
attacks, prisoner escapes. A ballpark figure of prisoner
escapes that happened from the time I reported to the
brigade was maybe 16 reports of escape. Once I received
those reports the staff would be briefed and it would be
sent up to CJTF-7, and then a subsequent report would be
prepared. Sometimes General Karpinski would launch a 15-6,
or an inquiry. I can't recall getting any reports of
detainee abuse. The reports were filed on email.

My appointment as the Interim Brigade Command Sergeant
Major was due to CSM MOMMOND being suspended and later
relieved of duty. General Karpinski asked me if I wanted
the job as Interim CSM, and I accepted. I did not read the
report on CSM 111111111111i, but I knew the circumstances. CSM

made some false statements under oath, and
allegedly had an illicit relationship with a subordinate,
and possibly misappropriate of a government vehicle.
General Karpinski told me of this when she asked me to be
the Interim CSM. General Karpinski told me to make sure
that soldiers were taken care of and do some of the things
that her previous CSM hadn't done to include training and
mentoring soldiers and NCO's.

I went to all the battalions and had an NCO call with their
CSM's and all available NCO's. I told the soldiers that I


was the new Interim Command Sergeant Major. I did not go

into detail of the circumstances of CSM -_' relief.

I told some battalions that CSM 4111111101 was relieved.

When I did my NCO call, every battalion had a CSM. I asked

General Karpinski why she picked me over some of the other

senior battalion CSM's. Before General Karpinski asked me

if I wanted the position, I thought CSM Scanlon was in the

door waiting to be the brigade CSM. Her decision to choose

me caught me by surprise. Even CSM .

had mentioned
to me that General Karpinski had mentioned to him that she
asked him to be the brigade CSM. General Karpinski told me
that the 530th MP Battalion had moved from Camp Bucca to
Ashraf and because of the mission up there, their battalion
commander told General Karpinski that he really needed CSM
Scanlon up there. She also told me that their battalion
commanders needed the other CSM's, and that there were
several that she did not have full confidence in to give
them the job as brigade CSM.

I do not recall any extra emphasis being given to the

brigade with regards to directing improvements with the

conduct of senior leaders eliciting sexual acts with junior

subordinates. When I went out and did my NCO call, I had a

few subjects that I went over. One such subject was about

NCOER's. Another class was on awards, but the key class I

gave was on conduct and discipline, and making sure that

soldiers were doing the right thing. As the Interim CSM, I

did not get out to the battalions as much as I wanted too.

The S-3 was short handed. During the two month that I was

the CSM, I visited the battalions at leas: once, and some

of them more than once. I was the Interim CSM and I also

helping out in the OPS SGM position. The OPS section was

short of enlisted and officers. I continued to help them

when I could. The S-3 was authorized six total folks and
we averaged six folks.

General Karpinski did not indicate that being the Interim
CSM would be my principal duty, but I know she wanted that

to be my principal duty. As much as she and I wanted it to
be my principal duty, I couldn't always make it my
principal duty. I told Major Cavallaro that I was now the
Interim CSM, and he was not happy about that due to the
shortage of personnel in the S-3 section. He was happy for
me that I was given a leadership position. Major Cavallaro
did not go to General Karpinski and ask her to allow me to
work both jobs. Anything that was Brigade CSM focused was
always first, and that was clear with Major.I

don't recall having a talk with General Karpinski with

regards to my sharing my time between working as the S3,


OPS Sergeant Major, and the Brigade CSM. I should have had
a talk with General Karpinski about this. I think I did
more in the two months that I was Interim CSM than probably
was done for a long time. I had NCO Call, I had a
promotion board, sent soldiers to PLDC, got projects built
inside some of the battalions to improve soldiers health
and welfare. My priority was the brigade. When I wasn't
actively doing something for the brigade, working for one
of the CSM's, working on a mission, I would walk over to
the S-3 section and help out if I could.

When I made my visits to the battalion I went back and gave
my observations to the entire staff. During the 1700 Staff
meeting I would stand up and give the pulse of the
battalion. I would tell of any infrastructure problems
that the S-4 needed to work on. I would talk about any S-1
problems. General Karpinski and I talked about problems
that arose in the battalion on several occasions. I didn't
think everyone in the battalion was happy, but I thought
there was a lot of good information going up and down.

Most of the time morale wasn't high. I would go up into
the towers and stand and talk with soldiers for up to 45
minutes. Soldiers told me that they were tired of being
there, tired of being in towers, tired of being short
handed, tired of seeing people being REFRAD due to the 24
month rule and no one comes to replace them. Some of the
positive comments were that the facilities were improving
daily, Internet café, and heat in the rooms, among others.

I would describe General Karpinski's leadership style as
direct. She is an authoritarian, not a passive leader.
When issues are brought to her she is direct. General
Karpinski reemphasized the treatment of detainees in a
policy letter. I am familiar with the two policy memo's,
one dated 5 October 2003, titled, "Proper treatment of the

Iraqi people during Combat Operations and the other dated
12 December, 2003, title, "Dignity and Respect while
conducting Operations. I don't recall that a command
directive to tell the units to read to everybody those
memo's nor do I recall anyone telling us to post them for
all to read. It may have been done though. When Abu
Ghraib became an enduring camp everything started to flow
in. As to living conditions at Abu Ghraib, a lot of the
soldiers were living in the cells. We wanted to get

trailers for the soldiers. This was hindered by the mortar
attacks. A mess hall has been put in as well as a MWR

I knew that the 205th MI Brigade was directed to be the FOB

Command for the Abu Ghraib prison. It did raise my
curiosity as to why that happened. We had a Battalion
Commander there that was in charge until a full Colonel was

moved in with the 205th MI Brigade. I did not make an

effort to meet the 205th MI Brigades CSM. I used all my

efforts to meet with the 800 th CSM's and its soldiers.

As far as knowing the operational status of the 320 th MP

Brigade, I made as much an effort as I could to deal with

issues when they came up. I know the importance of Abu

Ghraib in relation to the other Battalions in the 800 th MP

Brigade. We needed more force protection at Abu Ghraib.

This would have had to come from CJTF-7.

I was at Abu Ghraib visiting the Battalion there more time
than any other Battalion. I am familiar with Colonel
OMMEMOMMIft I had met him several times. Right now the
morale is lower in the 320th MP Battalion than it was
before. Overall morale of the battalion was maybe
"medium." I knew that the 320" Battalion was the battalion
involved in the detainee abuses at Camp Bucca.

I was out at Abu Ghraib several times and I met with
General Karpinski about some of my observations. One of

the observations had to do with meeting SFC .

when he
came down and did his assessment with General Rider. We
discussed weapons out in the compound area. I did follow
ups with regards to this issue with weapons. Weapons were
still in the compound because that was the decision that
was made. For weapons to stay in the compound tents. I
recommended that weapons be removed. The battalion
commander and his S-3 officer said that the only thing that
keeps inmates from coming over the wire into the compound
tent during mortar attacks was them being able to have 9
mils. They went and spoke to the CG behind closed doors,
and came to a compromise where they could still have their
weapons but they must carry them in their cargo pockets.

The weapons had to be concealed. If it was my decision, I
would have went without weapons.

[The session recessed at 1306 hours, 14 February 2004.]

[The session resumed at 1326 hours, 14 February 2004.]

The other Sergeants Major told me they were supportive of
my assignment, but I know that they would have reservations
without telling me. I spoke to each of them individually
and all of them said they were fully supportive. I'm sure
there was some resentment inside. I would probably feel a
little slighted if I was a CSM and an SGM was the Brigade

Accountability of detainees went up through the S-1

channels unless they come up shorthanded. Then they would

send it up to operations with the circumstances. There is

a Brigade TACSOP but it doesn't go into detail about

detainee accountability. General Karpinski is confident

that her commanders have good policy for headcounts. I

would ask on my visits how they did their headcounts and

all of them were by ISN at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The jails run by the Iraqi Corrections officers did it


The S-1 maintained a database by numbers by each facility

and on a daily basis. The report broke down the raw

numbers in several ways. The database was massive. Major

Garrity worked late each night updating it. The reports

were forwarded to PMO and they may have forwarded them to

CJTF-7, out S-3 did not. Same for SIRs, and they would go

to the LNO.

I helped resource getting soldiers up for additional

training the SFC.was providing as a refresher
course. SFC IMIIIIIIMteam selected specific days that they

could be available and we sent out the information to all

the battalions so they could send representatives to this
training. The battalions sent their representatives so
that they could go back and train the trainer. I don't

think there was an established deadline to have the
training completed. There was an initial directive telling
the battalions about this training. There was not
validation process with the training. There should have
been. I don't recall any validation process with any of
the battalions to see if and when the training was

With regards to the 320th MP Battalion and morale problems

no special or specific instructions were given to me by

General Karpinski to pay more attention to this particular

battalion than the rest. I do not know if any special

training of instructions were given by the S-3 of the

Brigade, Major.right after the incidents.

As the senior enlisted advisor, there was a bond between
the brigade commander, General Karpinski and me. She
trusted me, and I trusted her. This was a good command
relationship. I know that General Karpinski did not have a
great deal of respect for the former CSM of the brigade,
CSMVaalf This was because of the allegations about
him, and the fact that he was never around. It was obvious
to everyone that there was not a good relationship there.

with regards to the alleged abuses of detainees at Abu
Ghraib prison there was not an effort to canvas the
brigade, or to try and quell rumors. There was not a
special mission to do that. I spoke with all of the CSM's
and let them know what was going on. Because this was an
ongoing investigation we did not talk about it to the whole
brigade. I personally didn't go to talk to soldiers about
this because I was told not to talk about it by General
Karpinski, as it was an ongoing investigation.

have knowledge about the detainee abuse. What was
relayed to me was that there was some horrific things done.
I was told that there were nude detainees, bags over their
heads, MP's in the pictures, that sort of thing. I did not
see any pictures, or CD's about this.

Everyone saw or knew that the people in the senior

leadership were suspended or relieved. Some of the

individuals were: Colonel INIIMMOMMMO SGM Milmmem 1SG of

the 372nc , and the SFC NCOIC of the night shift at Abu
Ghraib, and the Company Commander. I had no knowledge of
any follow on information about the suspension of these
individuals by General Karpinski. The initial time that

she briefed the staff that there was an issue, I was not in
that meeting. One of my NCO's let me know that there was
an issue and the CG talked about it. As far as giving
particular guidance about the incidents she did not give
any. She did bring it up once or twice more at another
staff call. I have no knowledge whatsoever that she
instructed the brigade leaders of the battalions to check
their soldiers to prevent further abuses of this nature. I

do know that she put out a policy letter right after the

incident which discussed detainee abuse, and that was


I would not consider myself as part of the "tight knit"
group of the senior leaders within the BOOth MP Brigade. I
am the new guy. Peer staff officers call each other by
their first names. A "go to" person in the BOOth MP Brigade
is a hard question. Maybe the Chaplain, maybe Colonel

411011104, maybe Colonel I do not have a "go to"

person. I do not go to the CG with my personal issues.

The one recommendation that I would make would be

reinforcement type of training. I also stressed standards

and uniformity when I went up to the battalions.

I would like to add that as far a prisoner escapes and loss
of accountability as soldiers, there is no excuse for
prisoner escapes. The brigade had over 32,000 prisoners
and only between 16 and 20 have escaped. Total adds up to
about 35, and this is less than a decimal of a percent. I
think overall the brigade did pretty well at maintaining
accountability. Some of the escapes happened under the
Iraqi corrections officers watch. I feel deeply saddened
for the entire brigade and every soldier who was called up,
deployed over here and built up camps from nothing and
working hard all year long for these two incidents to
completely tarnish everything they and the brigade has
done. This includes building a corrections system from
nothing to where it's at today. I think it's unfortunate
that soldiers and some leaders make some terrible decisions
that steered the course of our successful mission to
overshadow that by a couple of incidents.

Those who committed need to be punished, and I guess there
is more that we could have done at brigade level to help
prevent that. There is always more that we could have
done. I wish there was more that I could have done, and
there probably was.

MG Taguba warned the respondent not to discuss his
interview with anyone and let him know that he was subject
to being recalled.

(The session closed at 1408 hours, 14 February 2004.]