By Brown, James B.; Goepner, Erik W. et al. | Military Review, May/June 2009 | Go to article overview


Brown, James B., Goepner, Erik W., Clark, James M., Military Review

INFLUENCING THE POPULATION is critical in a counterinsurgency, and the detainee population in Iraq represents a particularly salient demographic in that endeavor. Can an Iraqi detainee's extremist behavior be influenced and modified during detention, thereby making him a lesser threat to coalition forces upon release?1 This question is crucial for Iraq's future. The lengthy insurgency has resulted in a large number of detainees, and of those who are still being held captive, many have extremist backgrounds. If enough of them can be influenced to adopt positive attitudes toward coalition forces and the Iraqi government, and they return as constructive members of their villages and social networks, the cumulative effects would help tremendously in ensuring long-term national stability.

In Iraq, 160,000 people have been through the detention process, and we estimate that each detainee has a network that includes approximately 100 other Iraqi citizens.2 As a result, detainee experiences under America's care and custody may influence up to 16 million of Iraq's 26 million inhabitants. To see the potential future effects of current detention operations, one need only recall that many former detainees such as Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, and Jomo Kenyatta became important national leaders after their release from custody.

In the past, military practitioners and academics alike did not regard detainee operations as a legitimate subject for study in counterinsurgency, but the Army now regards the enlightened treatment of Iraq's detainee population as an integral part of successful counterinsurgency operations. Academics and military professionals, in literature and doctrine, have examined the problems of detention, but they have viewed them as outside the realm of operations. The normal perspective is that of the legal and moral necessity of collateral military duties tangential to operations, duties that sometimes lead to negative consequences. Notably, the Abu Ghraib incident emotionalized the subject of detainee care and custody to such an extent that thoughtful discussion of the subject has become increasingly difficult.

The characteristics of detention operations make it an ideal arena for combating an insurgency. Both guards and detainees "inside- the-wire" are captive authences in contact with each other 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unfortunately, the Army's detainee counterinsurgency strategy (focused as it is today) is a relatively new development. It only began with Major General Douglas Stone's assumption of command of Task Force 134 in May 2007.3 One has to draw conclusions from the data and information available with caution. Nevertheless, developing an appropriate and successful system of detainee reintegration and reconciliation can produce great benefits and lessons for future counterinsurgency campaigns.

With the capacity to hold more than 21,000 detainees, Camp Bucca is the largest internment facility currently supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Camp Bucca leaders and Soldiers are working to modify the behavior of detainees so that when they reenter Iraqi society, they are no longer threats to the Iraqi government and coalition forces but rather agents of change for the future of Iraq.

Detention Strategy

In conventional warfare, opposing forces usually do not release their prisoners of war until combat ends. In counterinsurgency, however, the reintegration of detainees into the population should take place as soon as they are no longer a risk to society.

Task Force 134's current strategy regards detention facility operations as a legitimate part of America's overall counterinsurgency fight. The detention facility is not just a repository for those plucked from the "real" insurgency, but a legitimate arena for counterinsurgency actions. The task force has shifted detention operations from warehousing insurgents to engaging them. The strategy focuses on touching the human spirit and aligning detainee goals and aspirations with those of a peaceful and prosperous Iraq. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article



Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.