Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe returned Tuesday from Iraq after visiting Oklahoma National Guard troops deployed there, according to a release from his office.
State Adjutant Harry M. Wyatt III accompanied Inhofe to missions in Baghdad, and to two detainee holding centers where members of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry, the Thunderbirds, are stationed.
"Currently, over 2,600 members of the Oklahoma National Guard 45th Infantry Brigade are serving in Iraq. While these Oklahomans have served in many different capacities throughout the global war on terror, the majority of Oklahoma's Thunderbirds are currently stationed at the detainment facilities of Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca, playing an invaluable role in conducting detainee operations in Iraq," Inhofe said in a press release. "Comprehensive improvements have been made to the detainee operations system in Iraq, a program that is of the utmost importance to the continuing success of the war on terrorism."
Inhofe spoke highly of the detainee education programs at Camp Bucca, a sprawling facility in southern Iraq holding more than 20,000 detainees. There, members of Oklahoma's 179th infantry, part of the Thunderbirds, guard, transport and tend to the detainees.
"The detainees are also given the opportunity to interact with moderate Islamic religious leaders, have bimonthly visitations with family members and actively participate in a Multi-National Force Review Committee hearing every six months, where their status is reviewed for potential release similar to parole board hearings in our own jails," Inhofe said. "Furthermore, the International Committee of the Red Cross has regular access to detention facilities at both Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca." "Ben Fenwick