One would think that the negative coverage of just about every phase of the Iraq War would have taught people about the many specialties of the US military, but especially about training for detention and stockade duty.  However, we have received an eruption of e-mail over a completely innocuous job listing from the National Guard which proves that a few people pay more attention to conspiracy theories than to facts.  The catalyst for the inbox paranoia came from a Monster.com listing to recruit for a 31E Internment/Resettlement Specialist:

Internment / Resettlement Specialists in the Army are primarily responsible for day-to-day operations in a military confinement/correctional facility or detention/internment facility. Internment / Resettlement Specialists provide rehabilitative, health, welfare, and security to US military prisoners within a confinement or correctional facility; provide custody, control, supervision and security to internees within a detention/internment facility; conduct inspections; prepare written reports; coordinate activities of prisoners/internees and staff personnel.

Some of your duties as an Internment / Resettlement Specialist may include:

  • Assisting with supervision and management of confinement and detention operations
  • Providing internal or external security to confinement/corrections facilities or detention/internment facilities
  • Providing custody, control, supervision and escort to all security levels of U.S. military prisoners or internees/detainees
  • Counseling and guidance to individual prisoners within a rehabilitative program
  • Preparing or reviewing reports and records of prisoners/internees and programs

Why does the Guard need these positions filled?  It may have escaped notice, but we sent a lot of National Guard units into combat areas of Iraq as we stretched to meet the personnel needs of occupation.  They took both combat and support roles for regular Army and Marine units in Iraq, and part of that effort involved holding detainees captured by combat troops.  The need for disciplined training in this particular specialty became painfully and publicly clear after Abu Ghraib (although that involved the 372nd Military Police Company of the Army).  The need for relocation efforts comes from any war situation where civilians get displaced en masse, as well as peacekeeping efforts in post-war situations.

Whenever and wherever Guard units get deployed, some of them have to be trained in handling prisoners.  That job requires specialists with specific training and discipline for the job.  The Guard advertises for those positions presumably because they figure that training and experience could be attractive to people who want to be law-enforcement officers (just as MP service in the other branches is), or who perhaps already are in law enforcement and want to serve their country in the discipline they know.

It’s not really a great mystery, nor is it a conspiracy to set up camps for political dissenters.  It’s a good job for people who want to serve the cause of liberty and freedom, and those who volunteer deserve our respect for choosing what’s usually a pretty thankless job even without the paranoid overtones.