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More prison space being built to accommodate Afghan insurgents

ARLINGTON, Va. — With an increased combat in Afghanistan, the U.S. is on track to double by March its prison space for suspected insurgents, according to the commander in charge of detainee operations.

The U.S.-run Parwan Detention Center, which currently holds about 1,300 prisoners, has a capacity of about 1,650. That capacity will increase to 3,200 after the expansion is completed.

“With the increased combat forces come increased detention operations,” Vice Adm. Robert Harward, commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435, told Pentagon reporters Tuesday.

So far this year, roughly 5,500 people have been detained by U.S. and coalition forces, Harward said. Of those, just 1,100 were sent to the U.S.-run Parwan Detention Center. The rest were released because they did not meet the criteria for continued detention, according to a task force spokesman.

By January, Harward said, the Afghan National Army will begin to assume control of the detention center, with the number of Afghan National Army detention guards increasing from 550 to 2,600.

“We’ve already begun the transition by training Afghan National Army members that are inside the facility guarding with us,” Harward said. “But again, it’s going to be at their pace. We are not going to push them. We want to make sure this is done right.”

Harward’s command has expanded its mission since September from focusing only on detention to add reintegration and rule-of-law programs with the U.S. State Department, Department of Justice and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Detainees are also provided vocational training in literacy, sewing and other skills, as well as receiving medical and dental services, Harward said.

baronk@stripes.osd.mil

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