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Fort Leonard Wood gets first military policeman as commanding general
Fort Leonard Wood gets first military policeman as commanding general

Maj. Gen. David Quantock (courtesy FLW public affairs)
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Jan. 12, 2009) — Fort Leonard Wood will soon get its first regular commanding general who isn’t an engineer.

Department of Defense personnel announced Monday that Maj. Gen. David E. Quantock, who currently serves as deputy commanding general of detainee operations for the Multi-National Force-Iraq, will succeed Maj. Gen. Gregg Martin as Fort Leonard Wood’s commanding general. Quantock is also the commander of Task Force 134 in Iraq, which is the American unit in charge of the prison facilities in Iraq which house suspected insurgents.

Quantock, a career military policeman who previously served as the commandant of the Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, is known as the American commander brought in to repair the damage caused by the 2004 detainee abuse scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison. That case involved several American soldiers, including Spec. Charles Graner and Pfc. Lynndie England, who were later court-martialed for abusing Iraqi detainees and photographing them in various sexually humiliating positions.

More recently, he’s been working to release detainees or transfer them to the control of Iraqi security forces and has been responsible for the Sept. 17 shutdown of Camp Bucca, a large American-run prison in Iraq that once housed more than 21,000 inmates but had only half that number by the end of 2008; only 180 inmates remained when it finally closed. Remaining inmates are housed in two other facilities, Camp Cropper and Camp Taji.

American military authorities stated in September that under Quantock’s command, Task Force 134 has released about 750 detainees from its detention facilities each month since February and transferred an average of 200 detainees per month to the Iraqi government.

Quantock’s focus in Iraq has included preventing any repetition of the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal. In a June 22 interview with Arab media, Quantock said that “treating detainees humanely is extremely important.”

“We understand at some point many of these detainees will be released and it does no good to improperly treat detainees who will someday be released,” Quantock said. “Our focus inside our facilities is to separate extremists from moderates, to give them some educational and vocational training so that when they leave our facilities, they can positively contribute to the future of Iraq and to themselves. And that’s why, as we start to transition Taji, one of our main efforts is to put a vocational training center at Taji that, when we leave, that will not stop because we would like to leave, at Taji, a model facility that can be replicated throughout Iraq.”

While releasing detainees from Camp Bucca was blamed in some quarters for contributing to an uptick in Iraqi violence, Quantock consistently disputed those allegations and said most people initially reviewed for release were considered to be low-threat inmates; medium-threat inmates were reviewed later and high-threat inmates were generally transferred to other American facilities or the government of Iraq.

“We don’t want to undo the hard work and sacrifice of the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) and Coalition forces by mass releasing detainees back into the community … Our number one priority is to ensure the safety of the Iraqi people, the security forces and the detainees,” Quantock said in a November 2008 interview following the release of more than 17,500 detainees that year.

According to an article earlier this month in the Albany Times-Union, Quantock’s hometown newspaper in New York, Quantock was promoted to his current two-star rank on Christmas Eve. According to that article, Quantock expected to turn over two additional American-run prison facilities in Iraq, Camp Cropper with 3,780 detainees and Camp Taji with 4,450 detainees, to Iraqi forces later this year.

Inmates scheduled for release rather than for transfer to Iraqi authorities attend a class known as “Tanweer,” or “enlightenment,” which in a 2008 military press release, Quantock said is intended to prepare the inmates for rejoining Iraqi society and includes basic Arabic reading, writing, mathematics, science, and vocational skills.

“The internees discuss civics, the new Iraqi government, reintegration with their families and communities, and can participate in small group discussions with Iraqi clerics and Iraqi social workers to learn more about Islam and the teachings of the Koran in the classes,” said Quantock. “We have a responsibility to the people of Iraq that extends beyond ensuring those detained in our theater internment facilities are treated with care and respect … We must also be confident that our process for release ensures the protection and security of the citizens in the communities that these detainees return to, so our processes must be responsible and deliberate.”

Quantock’s transition role in Iraq wasn’t limited to turning prisons over to the Iraqis.

On Dec. 15, American authorities transferred control of a $28 million Iraqi Correctional Training Center to the Iraqi Ministry of Justice. Much like a military police training facility at Fort Leonard Wood, the facility in Iraq is designed to closely resemble a working prison but also includes classrooms, four computer labs with 80 computers, a non-lethal firing range, a dining facility and student housing adequate to train up to a thousand students.

At the time, an American military press release quoted Quantock stating that a correctional facility needs “more than guards” to function well.

“You need mid-level supervisors, you need wardens, you need engineers and you need administrators. This facility will be able to accommodate all of those requirements and provide a training venue that allows for the development of a first-rate correctional officer,” Quantock said.

Graduates of the training center will work in Iraqi Ministry of Justice prisons as well as the remaining American detention facilities at Camp Cropper and Camp Taji.

Quantock has been in his current position since Oct. 8, 2008; he was previously the deputy commanding general of Task Force 134 after leaving his position as commandant of the Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood in June 2008. His two sons are also in the military, currently serving in Iraq and Kuwait as junior officers.

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