On training Canadian troops to handle detainees

In his testimony before the House committee on Afghanistan, David Mulroney just expressed great confidence in the training Canadian troops received on the handling of detainees.

Mulroney, the former top bureaucrat on Afghanistan issues, and now Canada’s ambassador to China, might want to consult Feb. 6, 2009, report of the military’s Board of Inquiry into In-theatre Handling of Detainees.

The board found that training was, on the whole, good. But on record-keeping (one of Colvin’s key concerns) it was poor. And some Forces members, particularly some military police, did not receive their full pre-deployment training. Here’s the key section of the board’s report:

“Specific training with respect to the handling of detainees was provided to [Canadian Forces] members deploying to Afghanistan, both prior to the deployment and in-theatre. Both conventional and special forces members were trained, at the individual and collective level, and for the most part, that training was effective. While the hands-on handling of detainees was well covered in the collective training phase, some aspects of record keeping were not.

“[Canadian Forces] commanders and deployed members were generally comfortable with the level of training they were provided in this area; however, for a number of the personnel assigned to augment at the Battle Group or Task Force level, their late arrival at the collective training event reduced their training opportunity. This was particularly evident in the case of the GS MP platoon. However, the Board assessed that the benefit of adding the GS MP Platoon to the force structure far outweighed any problems related to its pre-deployment training.”

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