Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s military headquarters are leading the international news this morning following a ceremony in which they handed control of the main NATO prison in Afghanistan to local authorities.
The ceremony marks a milestone for the 42nd Military Police Brigade, which took command of the Parwan Detention Facility at Bagram Airfield in February. The brigade assumed control of the prison on the very day riots erupted across Afghanistan because of the inappropriate burning of Islamic holy books at the jail.
Since then, Afghan President Hamid Karzai pushed NATO to hand control of the jail to his government. In the past, NATO officials had expressed reluctance to do so out of concerns that Afghan authorities could use the jail to solicit bribes, and that insurgents could return easilty to the battlefield.
Today’s press reports note that Lewis-McChord’s Col. Robert Taradash was the highest ranking American officer to attend the transfer ceremony. The New York Times highligted the absence of higher ranking generals, and noted that NATO plans to retain control of certain detainees.
Taradash focused on the authority Afghans gained today.
“We transferred more than 3,000 Afghan detainees into your custody… and ensured that those who would threaten the partnership of Afghanistan and coalition forces will not return to the battlefield,” he said at the ceremony.
He and about 120 other soldiers from the brigade headquarters are expected to return home later this fall.