Major General Douglas Stone, Commander of Task Force 134, speaks with reporters at the Pentagon, providing an update on ongoing detention operations in Iraq, 9 June 2008.
Detention Centers Give Glimpse Into al-Qaida - Gerry Gilmore, AFPS
Officials who manage detention centers in Iraq are getting a valuable look inside the mind of al-Qaida in Iraq, a senior US military officer said here today.
"We have learned so much about who al-Qaida is; we have learned so much about how they recruit and what their intent is; we have learned so much about how to counter them and how to engage [the detainee population] with a very clear program that breaks away their support base," Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone told Pentagon reporters.
About 21,000 detainees are being held in detention centers in Iraq under a United Nations resolution, said Stone, who recently completed a 14-month duty tour as the deputy commander of detention operations for Multinational Force Iraq.
Stone said he implemented a system last fall that separated hard-core extremists from more moderate members of the detention population. Moderate, well-behaved detainees, he told reporters, are rewarded with family visitation times, literacy and vocational training classes and more.
Confirmed extremists, including foreigners who entered Iraq to wage war against US and Iraqi security forces and against Iraqi civilians are separated from non-extremists within the detention population, he said.
Moderate-thinking detainees deemed not to be security threats want to re-enter Iraqi society as peaceful, productive citizens, Stone said. The majority of these detainees, he explained, got into trouble helping insurgents by being lookouts or performing other low-level tasks -- not because they shared the extremists' philosophy, but because they were desperate for money.
Voluntary education and vocational programs offered at detention centers are providing moderate-thinking detainees a conduit to re-enter society as productive citizens, Stone said.
The Fate of The Worst - Max Boot, Contentions
One of the unheralded heroes of the past year in Iraq is Major General Douglas Stone of the US Marine Corps, who has just ended a stint as commander of detainee operations. His most notable innovation has been to institute "COIN behind the wire" — that is a counterinsurgency program aimed at weaning detainees away from terrorism. It is too soon to tell to what extent this program has succeeded, but early indications are positive. The program is now being put to the test because the US command is reducing the number of detainees in American custody. The total has already dropped from 25,000 to 21,000, as noted in this Washington Post article, yet the amount of violence for the past three weeks has been at its lowest level since early 2004.
General Stone's Exit Interview - Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner
Very briefly but worth your time watch the video below, at least the first seven minutes. Major General Doug Stone, formerly of Task Force 134, gave an exit interview after turning over command of detainee operations in Iraq. I recommend watching his opening remarks as he speaks directly to the point who the detainees are, their motivation, and how he managed to attain a recidivism rate of... well it is "miniscule" as he noted (only 40 returned out of about 10,000 released).