09-25-2007, 11:19 AM
The boy who cried Trout
Join Date: Oct 2000
An alternative interrogation method in Iraq
Iraq Detainee Chief Undercuts Insurgents
Military.com | By Christian Lowe | September 25, 2007
It may not be the most dramatic operation going on to defeat the insurgency and weed out al Qaeda in Iraq, and it may not grab the biggest headlines. But one Marine general is waging his counterinsurgency fight by attacking the battlefield of the mind, rather than kicking in doors and blowing up buildings.
In a corner of the sprawling Baghdad International Airport, just a harrowing armored bus ride from the Green Zone, Maj. Gen. Doug Stone is implementing a novel plan to undercut the insurgency by drying up its base of hardened fighters.
With a combination of vocational education, religious "enlightenment" courses and more carrots than sticks, Stone is working to send detainees captured in U.S. raids back into society with a mission of building a unified Iraq, rather than tearing it down.
"Victory ... is to establish an alliance with and to empower the moderate Iraqis to effectively marginalize the violent extremists," Stone told Military.com in a Sept. 21 interview from Camp Cropper, Iraq. "We're trying to build this society inside that would reflect victory on the outside."
Listen to the entire interview with General Stone at this week's "The Editor's Desk" podcast here.
After assuming command of detainee operations in May, Stone put together a novel program that aims to separate the moderate Iraqis that have been detained during combat operations from the "dead-ender" extremists who he believes are unable to be swayed.
Stone's troops put detainees through a battery of questioning that's more than just a typical interrogation. They're looking for information on education, job history, criminal record, religious motivations and aptitude - all in hopes of developing an alternative to going back to their insurgent ways.
After separating the hard-cores from the moderates, Stone plies the detainees with vocational training, counseling and religion classes run by Iraqi imams to divert their energies into embracing an Iraq without today's sectarian rift.
Of the 25,000 detainees within his facilities, Stone figures the average age is about 35 years-old, 50 percent are married, nearly 80 percent are unemployed and around 65 percent are illiterate.
And the majority of the detainee population is Sunni.
Though the situation at one time seemed intractable, Stone is beginning to see some success with his plan. In the past, as many as 7 percent of detainees who were eventually released found their way back into the camps. But since the beginning of 2007, less than 2 percent of the 4,000 detainees released have returned - and none of those are graduates of the new program.
"We're trying to find out which of the ones are just unemployed and would not return to the fight," Stone explained. "When they go back to society, A: we hope that they won't return and B: we hope they engage in helping the rest of society know what we're doing."
The new strategy is also beginning to change minds inside the prison walls. In September, Stone said two groups of moderate detainees turned in a group of religious extremists hiding in their midst, pushing the so-called "takfiri" up against the fence and calling guards over to remove them from their compound.
The incident "is reflective of the kind of behavior we would like to see," Stone said. "That word got out ... and it is starting to spread."
"We've been able to get these guys on the run [and] put them in their own compound ... so that we can see if we can knock the edges off of them."
Stone accuses al Qaeda of sometimes using children in their operations, so his detainee population includes more than 150 he considers "youths." These detainees undergo a similar education program to the adults - though the religion classes are "more a civics class" than the adult one - along with sports and art courses.
"I have not approached it from the perspective that it is warehousing," Stone said. "I have approached it as a battlespace ... that needs to be in sync with the greater strategy that Gen. Petraeus has laid out."
One vocational program puts the detainees to use making bricks to help rebuild Iraq's war-torn infrastructure. Each brick made by the detainees is inscribed in Arabic "brick by brick we rebuild our nation."
"We've had 14 or so youth not want to leave when they could have been let go," Stone recalled. "We've had parents visit us and say 'if he's working on his education please don't let him out.' "
I found this very interesting in that it's a great illustration on how our military works and is individuals are allowed to adapt to changing situations.
Last edited by sachmo71 : 09-25-2007 at 11:20 AM.