FORT GILLEM, Georgia – Earlier this year, the 200th Military Police Command met with the International Committee of the Red Cross at Fort Gillem, Georgia to discuss the humane treatment of detainees.
Following up from the Detainee Operations Training Event which the 200th Military Police Command hosted in June 2021 in Southbridge, Massachusetts, the command and staff are vested in making sure that all soldiers understand the importance of humane treatment of detainees.
“In the 200th Military Police Command, we enforce the humane treatment of detainees, based on our Army values and our nation’s respect for the rule of law,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Hussey, commanding general of the 200th Military Police Command, in January. “Our detainee operations program is transparent, and we want to make sure that the world knows that.”
While independent and neutral, the International Committee of the Red Cross maintains a working relationship with militaries around the world. As stated on their website, the ICRC “takes action in response to emergencies and at the same time promotes respect for international humanitarian law and its implementation in national law.”
Reciprocally, the United States military maintains communication with humanitarian organizations in order to foster transparency.
“We willingly work with the ICRC,” said Maj. Gen. Hussey. “It is important to be open and truthful with all stakeholders, especially humanitarian organizations, when you’re doing the right things the right way.”
Respecting the rule of law is key for military personnel. To that end, the office of the staff judge advocate plays a monumental role, not only in keeping the command abreast of the law, but also in shaping training. Under the 200th Military Police Command’s Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, the national security law team advises the command on matters of national security law, formerly operational law. This team covers rules of engagement, targeting, battlefield contracting and, notably for this training with ICRC, detainee operations. National security law is one of six areas of legal specialty designated by The Judge Advocate General of the Army.
“I have found that, with frequent communication, comes shared understanding,” said Col. Eric J. Feustel, staff judge advocate for the 200th Military Police Command. “That shared understanding allows the command’s national security law team to responsibly fulfill its role. We always take away something new to incorporate into our ‘best practices’ following each ICRC engagement.”
In preparing for large-scale combat operations, planning for detainee operations is often an afterthought. Maj. Gen. Hussey warns against this shortsightedness.
“It is inevitable in every war that there will be individuals captured and detained. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, in particular military planners.” said Hussey. “The key is to be ready for this aspect of the war by planning, training and allocating the necessary personnel and resources to support the maneuver commander. Failure to do so may result in strategic failure.”
The 200th MP Command provides the full range of military police support to large-scale ground operations whenever and wherever required. As the senior military police command of the U.S. Army Reserve, the 200th MP Command trains and prepares four brigade headquarters, 22 battalion headquarters and 53 companies dispersed across the continental U.S.