The Army Reserve unit tarnished by the Abu Ghraib detainee-abuse scandal has been mobilized to return to Iraq in its first deployment since photographs of naked, humiliated prisoners surfaced more than six years ago, the Army said on Friday.
The 372nd Military Police Company of Cresaptown will leave April 29 for one to three months of training at Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by a planned deployment to Iraq, said Sgt. Darius Kirkwood, a spokesman for the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade. Few members of the unit remain from when the detainee photographs were taken, due to normal turnover, he said.
Mr. Kirkwood said the group’s final destination could change, depending on the military’s needs.
The 130 to 170 MPs could be assigned to guard or transport prisoners, provide security for an installation or convoy, or perform general police functions, Mr. Kirkwood said.
He dismissed questions about whether the 372nd’s return to Iraq could provoke a hostile response. Militants there have used Abu Ghraib photographs to incite anti-American sentiment.
“I think that if that were a big enough concern, if anyone would think that was that big of an issue, this unit would not be deploying as it is,” he said.
The unit became internationally known in 2004 when seven enlisted members were charged in connection with the mistreatment of detainees at the prison near Baghdad. All were convicted and six served prison time.
Four other low-ranking soldiers from outside the 372nd also were convicted of abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners.
Mr. Kirkwood said neither the other members of the unit at the time, nor its current roster should be judged by the crimes of a few.
“The unit itself, I would think, was not the problem, but perhaps the activities of several individuals,” Mr. Kirkwood said. “I have no reason to believe we’re not 100 percent confident in this unit.”
Since returning from Iraq in 2004, the 372nd has functioned as a stateside reserve unit with members performing part-time duties that included assisting a Haitian hurricane-relief effort in 2005.
Keywords: Abu Ghraib prisoners' abuse