ARLINGTON, Va. — Two of the top officers who served under Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez in Iraq — and were responsible for oversight of the units at Abu Ghraib detention facility at the time — have been given new high-profile jobs.
Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, who served as chief of intelligence for Sanchez, will take command of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., on Wednesday.
Cleared of wrongdoing by military investigators, Fast will be handed the colors of the service’s main intelligence training schoolhouse from Gen. Kevin Byrnes, the commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, according to Fort Huachuca spokesman Maj. Paul Karnaze.
The top post at the Intelligence Center has been vacant since Maj. Gen. James A. Marks left in June. Although Fast arrived as Marks was leaving with orders to take over the school, her assignment was put into a nine-month limbo as investigators looked into her role in Abu Ghraib scandal.
An investigation led by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger released in August criticized Fast, finding that she “failed to advise (Sanchez) properly on the directives and policies needed” for interrogations and for inadequately monitoring CIA operations at the detention facilities.
Since then, however, internal Army investigations have cleared Fast of any wrongdoing.
“She’s maintained that she had a job to do and got on with,” Karnaze said. While he said Fast will offer a brief news conference after assuming command, he does not expect her to entertain questions about Abu Ghraib.
“Her focus is on the future now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Sanchez’s deputy commander in Iraq, has been given a position of greater responsibility as acting deputy commander of Army forces in Europe, directly under Gen. B.B. Bell, said Lt. Col. Jane Crichton, a U.S. Army Europe spokeswoman. The position is traditionally a three-star assignment requiring Senate approval.
During his yearlong tour in Iraq, Wojdakowski was responsible for overseeing V Corps’ “separate brigades,” including the 800th Military Police Brigade and the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Both units were responsible for operations at Abu Ghraib and their commanders were harshly criticized for weak and ineffectual leadership that directly contributed to the abuses, according to several investigations.
An investigation led by Lt. Gen. Anthony Jones concluded that Wojdakowski along with Sanchez “failed to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations,” highlighting Wojdakowski’s “direct oversight” of the two brigade commanders.
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th MP Brigade, who recently received a letter of reprimand for leadership failures, said Wojdakowski once told her “I don’t care if we’re holding 15,000 innocent civilians! We’re winning the war!” according to a sworn statement by Karpinski obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through the Freedom of Information Act.
Both Wojdakowski and Sanchez — who remains commander of V Corps — are still under investigation.
Until recently Wojdakowski had remained Sanchez’s deputy in Germany, after returning from Iraq. According to the Army General Officer Management Office in Washington, Wojdakowski had been reassigned, serving as “special assistant” to Bell, a job that does not otherwise exist at that level.
In real terms, Crichton said, Wojdakowski now works as Bell’s acting deputy and chief of staff. Traditionally either job is a career-enhancing position usually reserved for leaders being groomed for promotion.