Initial Reaction Force
The Initial Reaction Force (IRF), also known as the Internal Reaction Force or Extreme Reaction Force (ERF) to inmates, is a type of small scale riot squad in U.S. military prisons such as the Camp Delta detention center of Guantanamo Bay. A squad is suited up and ready to respond, at all times, in instances when one or more detainees are combative or resistive.
It is alleged by detainees that the unit also acts as a punishment squad for detainees whose level of insubordination doesn't fit the criteria for IRF deployment. Part of the allegations charge that regular guards will create reasons to call on the IRF to brutalize detainees over petty or non-existent infractions; refusing to agree to the third cell search in a day or infractions as slight as placing their toiletries on their shelf in the wrong order. claims: "16. I have witnessed the activities of the Internal Reaction Force (hereinafter "IRF"), which consists of a squad of soldiers that enter a detainee's cell and brutalize him with the aid of an attack dog. The IRF invasions were so common that the term to be "IRF'd" became part of the language of the detainees. I have seen detainees suffer serious injuries as a result of being IRF'ed. I have seen detainees IRF'ed while they were praying, or for refusing medication."
Another allegation by ex-detainees is that while the IRF squad is en route to the target detainee's cell they will chant, "IRF! IRF! IRF!" in order to intimidate and terrify the detainee. Part of the allegation claims that, when the squad arrives at a detainee's cell, they shout out demands to comply.
In his first interview, after his repatriation, Tarek Dergoul asserted that a sixth member of the ERF team always stood outside the cell, with a video camera, recording the action. Camp authorities confirmed every ERF action was filmed, and Senator Patrick Leahy called for the recordings to be made available to the Senate Judiciary Committee, to see if they contained instances of the kind of abuse recorded in the Abu Ghraib trophy photos. Camp Commandant Jay Hood appeared before the committee two months later with a selection of recordings of the use of the ERF squad.
- The David Hicks affidavit, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 December 2004
- David Rose (2004-05-16). "'They tied me up like a beast and began kicking me'". The Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-01-24.
In Washington, Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, demanded that the videos be shown to Congress. 'If evidence exists that can establish whether there has been mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, it should be provided without delay,' he said. 'That must include any tapes or photos of the activities of the Extreme Reaction Force.'
- David Rose, Gaby Hinsloff (2004-05-16). "US guards 'filmed beatings' at terror camp: Senator urges action as Briton reveals Guantanamo abuse". The Observer. Archived from the original on 2008-02-16.
Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued at the camp, an investigation by The Observer has revealed. The disclosures, made in an interview with Tarek Dergoul, the fifth British prisoner freed last March, who has been too traumatised to speak until now, prompted demands last night by senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to make the videos available immediately.
- Rosa Prince and Gary Jones, "My Hell in Camp X-ray," source: Daily Mirror, London, March 12, 2004, accessed on July 1, 2004.
- Torture Continues at Guantánamo Bay Truthout
- Human Rights Watch
- Observer International (British newspaper)
- Mirror.co.uk online Newspaper