Detainees form a crowd inside the compound as the loud cheers and even louder jeers intensify. Guards on the catwalks above watch closely as the mob’s shouting reaches its peak. It’s over suddenly, and the participants trickle away in ones and twos, replaying the highlights of the afternoon’s volleyball game and already planning for the next.
Allowing detainees freedom - even fun – inside a detention facility may seem odd, but it is part of a strategic counterinsurgency tactic to engage detainees and separate violent individuals from the rest of the population. The goal is to create a safe and positive environment for successful detainee reintegration into Iraqi society.
Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Smith, 535th Military Police Battalion, is a Reservist military policeman and a civilian police officer from Nashville, Tenn. He works as the noncommissioned officer in charge of Compound Two, known inside the TIF as the most compliant compound. Much of his day is spent walking the compound’s four zones, overseeing his guards and meeting with the detainee zone chiefs, he said.
“I like to describe my job in the TIF as putting out small fires before they turn into big ones,” said Smith.