CLUMBUS (TDB) -- An Ohio National Guard unit serving in Iraq is assigned to Task Force 134, the military command responsible for all detainee operations in that strife-torn nation where daily life is dangerous and chaotic. The Daily Bellwether learned of the assignment after ONG officials disclosed the mission of soldiers assigned to the Army Reserve's 324th Military Police Battalion today. But there was nothing that mentions the exact location of the security facility where they are based.
However, some elements of the 324th are at Camp Cropper, which is near the Baghad airport, and was the detention facility where Saddam Hussein repotedly spent his days in American custody. About 2,000 prisoners are held there now.
A statement sent by the 324th's public affairs officer in Baghdad, 1st Lt. Rob Glenn, said the Ohioans were working alongside guard members from Illinois and New Hampshire. "The primary mission of the unit is security, custody, care and control of the security detainees inside the facility,'' Glenn reported. He did not describe anything in detail, "But here is what we can tell you. It looks like any other detention facility. Concertina wire, concrete, chain link fence, wood and the steely resolve of a guard force . ."
He said the soldiers are cautioned to use appropriate force, receive language training, and have been versed on the Geneva Convention. ''All leaders in the battalion recently conducted a study of the Abu Ghraib scandal and analyzed how a permissive environment was created, which led to the tragic events," Lt. Glenn wrote. "This training is instrumental in insuring such tragic events don't happen again."
ONG officials have posted Glenn's report from Iraq on the state's Web site HERE. Glenn said the soldiers are committed "to doing what is legally and morally right."
Ohio's soldiers are with the 1/124 Infantry. Some men from the unit were rushed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and rescued trapped refugees inside the SuperDome. I was a newspaper reporter who covered the disaster and ran across the unit at the SuperDome. They were kind, patient and concerned about the people they were sent to help after the terrible storm. Hope all goes well in Iraq.