U.S. forces have so many MPs guarding detained Iraqis that we have no one left to train indigenous security forces.
The number of prisoners held in U.S. military detention centers in Iraq has risen without interruption since autumn, filling the centers to capacity and prompting commanders to embark on an unanticipated prison expansion plan.
As U.S. and Iraqi forces battle an entrenched insurgency, the detainee population surpassed 11,350 last week, a nearly 20 percent jump since Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections. U.S. prisons now contain more than twice the number of people they did in early October, when aggressive raids began in a stepped-up effort to crush the insurgency before January’s vote.
Anticipating continued growth in the detainee population, U.S. commanders have decided to expand three existing facilities and open a fourth, at a total cost of about $50 million.
The steady influx of prisoners has also required additional U.S. military police officers to guard the detention centers. Commanders had hoped to use the MPs to help train Iraqi police, but management of the detention centers has taken priority.