An Analysis of the Immediate Reaction Force Reports
IRFing training exercise, demonstrating the manner and
formation in which the IRF team would rush at a detain-
ee, slamming the detainee to the ground. Normally, how
ever, members of the team would be wearing body arm-
our, helmets and shin guards, & would be accompanied
by dogs (from The First Statement of David Hicks).
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by NBC News, the U.S. Department of Defense released hundreds of pages of reports of Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) incidents at Guantánamo (see report). An IRF is meant to respond when a prisoner is resistant or combative and is intended, primarily, for the forced extraction of a prisoner from his cell, according to Camp Delta's Standard Operating Procedures.
We have identified forty three IRFing incidents in these reports. It is possible, however that several of them be one and the same. These incidents have been tabulated below alongside the relevant pages from the reports. The most common action taken was a Forced Cell Extraction (FCE). The motives for an IRFing vary, but the most commonly encountered in the released documents was a prisoner's refusal of a routine procedure. These procedures could be going to an interrogation session (referred to here, as elsewhere, as "going to reservation") or failing to submit to a cell search or transfer. It might even be refusing recreation or a shower.
IRFings that occurred on the same date are entered separately according to the time given1 and, as we have noted, it is entirely possible that some such entries in fact describe the same incident. The IRFings reported took place over a span of three years, the earliest being on July 19, 2002 and the latest on July 16, 2005. We have no reason to believe this is an exhaustive list of all the IRFings over this period--let alone a list of all the IRFings that took place in Guantanamo.
As a matter of fact, none of the IRFings that took place at Camp X-Ray could have been described in these releases, as Camp X-Ray closed on April 29, 2002. And none of the IRFings that took place after July 16, 2005 could have been detailed either. Included among the latter is the IRFing carried out on 18MAY06 in response to what Rear Admiral Harry Harris called "the most violent outbreak at the facility" to date).2
Many of the pages of the reports are heavily redacted, blocking information of not just the identities of those involved in the IRFings, but also details of the incidents themselves. There were also many duplicate pages found throughout the released files. So not all of the pages are distinct statements. The reports released by the Department of Defense were grouped in three PDF files that can be found here. These files are referred to below as F1, F2, and F3.
Independent testimonies of IRFings may be found throughout this website. See for example the testimonies of chaplain James Yee, linguist Erik Saar, and guard Brandon Neely--as well as those of prisoners Murat Kurnaz, Mustafa Ait Idir, Issa al Murbati, Omar Deghayes, and Moazzam Begg, to cite a few.
CSHRA Research Affiliate Sonia Saini contributed to this report.
||19 JUL 02
||Detainee was lying across cell with sheet over him, ignored ID check orders, started yelling and banging on bunk, threw water, spit.
||FCE by several escort teams, handcuffed for restraint, cleared by medical.
||Significant redaction in typed report of this incident.
|2||18 JAN 03
||F1: 45, 48-49
||Refused to give up towel.
||Sprayed with [REDACTED], FCE to recreation yard, medical check, then returned after towel retrieved.
||Detainees cannot have towels due to prior incident of "self-harm" with towel; substance that detainee was sprayed with was redacted.
|3||08 FEB 04||7:50||Delta
||F1: 32-34, 37-41, 86-96, 99-100
||258th||Detainees (five of them?) refused cell search.
||FCE with medical and video support present, taken to recreation area, received medical attention, cleared, returned.
||Medical information blocked out; no injuries to anyone; shaved "about the head"; many statements of incident completely blocked out.
|4||11 FEB 04
||F1: 3-6, 25-31, 59-62, 64-69
||Refused cell search and recreation and shower activity.
||Medical and video support called, FCE, restrained and cuffed, moved to recreation area for medical attention and evaluation, returned to cell.
||No injuries to IRF or detainees.
|5||11 FEB 04
||Refused recreation/ reservation and shower.
||IRF team assembled, medical and camera support on scene; restrained and cuffed detainee, moved him to recreation area; medical evaluation.
||Exactly what happened to detainee is blocked out from typed report, though one handwritten report says restrained and cuffed. No injuries.
|6||12 FEB 04
||F1: 121-123, 125-127, 147-154;
F2: 21-23, 25-27, 47-54
||Detainees refused being escorted to recreation and shower.
||5-person IRF team assembled, recreation area "prepped," medical and camera support present, FCE to rec area.
||Some details about the recreation area are blocked out of the typed incident report; multiple detainees involved. Several typed sworn statements are the same.
|7||12 FEB 04
||F1:114-120; F2: 14-20
|With medical and camera support, IRF team removed him to rec area; medical attention, returned after reservation.
||Exactly what happened to detainee in cell at time of FCE is blocked out of many of the reports, though one says he was restrained.
|8||12 FEB 04
||F1: 164-170; F2: 64-70
reservation and shower.
|Entered cell; cuffed, restrained detainee and took him to rec area, where he received medical attention and evaluation; camera support on scene.
||Exactly what happened to detainee is blocked out of typed report; no injuries to any of block personnel, IRF team, or detainees.
|9||13 FEB 04
||Refused to come out of cell to go to reservation.
||IRF team assembled to extract detainee into rec yard; checked and cleared by medical and psych personnel in rec yard; taken to reservation.
||"There were no injuries on the IRF team"; a single handwritten report form describing the event has information filled in by different handwritings.
|10||16 FEB 04
||F1: 260-266; F3: 47-53
||Refused random cell search.
||IRF team assembled, medical and video camera support called, rec area prepped for [REDACTED], 5-person IRF team entered cell, FCE to rec area for [REDACTED], received med attn and cleared, cell searched, returned.
||"The cell extraction of the detainee went well"; some accounts discuss back-to-back incidents with different detainees; p. 264, in different handwriting: "So what is this?"; "no IRF team members were injured."
|11||18 FEB 04
||Refused to come out of cell for random cell search (some handwritten accounts said it was reservation).
||IRF team assembled, medical and psych personnel arrived, FCE into rec yard "for decon," returned after search.
||"No injuries on the IRF team"; detainee was passive, lying under bunk.
|12||19 FEB 04
||F1: 171-177; F2: 71-77
|Medical and DOC camera support were on scene; taken to reservation yard, cleared by medical then escorted to reservation.
||Typed report blocks out exactly what happened to detainee, although handwritten one says he was taken to reservation yard; no injuries.
|13||19 FEB 04
||F1: 7-12, 14
||Refused to come out of cell to go reservation.
||FCE, shackled with 3-piece suit, taken to recreation yard, medical evaluation then taken to reservation.
||"No injuries to the IRF team," med/psych arrived before FCE.
|14||19 FEB 04
||F1: 282-289; F3: 69-76
||Detainee refused to comply with requirement to submit to random cell search.
||IRF team extracted him from cell and checked cell "for contraband and unauthorized items"; was pulled out to the causeway and cleared by medical.
||One handwritten statement says detainee was told to get on ground, "refused to comply. [REDACTED] and then we entered the cell…"; alternate IRF team called.
|15||19 FEB 04
||F1: 103-112, 131-133;
||Detainees refused to come out of cell for random cell search.
||After refusals, FCE, then later returned to cell and unsecured.
||The times were scribbled out and rewritten for almost all statements for this particular incident; some handwritten accounts describe three different incidents that were more or less the same with different detainees; some statements look like duplicates.
|16||21 FEB 04
||Refused to exit cell for search after multiple chances to comply.||FCE; "[REDACTED] was used."
|17||22 FEB 04
||F1: 252-259; F3: 39-46
||Refused to exit cell for a cell search after multiple chances to comply.
||IRF team called and detainee forcefully removed from cell, moved to [REDACTED].
||Redaction in the typed report's summary of incident right after the FCE; significant redaction in handwritten accounts; no injuries reported; secondary IRF team was involved.
|18||26 FEB 04
||F1: 50-56, 58
||Refused to comply with reservation appointment requirement.
||Extracted from cell, handed over to escort team; refused to walk so was carried to appt (to the gold building).
|19||29 FEB 04
||F1: 291-297; F3: 78-84
||Refused to shackle up for the Escort MPs to take him to Reservations.
||IRF team activated and extracted him from cell; checked by medical and turned over to escort team for transport to reservations; was put in 3-piece suit and placed on back board because he refused to walk.
||Heavy redaction in the handwritten statements; medical, camera on scene; one handwritten statement ends with "we then moved [REDACTED] to brown building without further incident" (only mention of brown building in the documents?).
|20||29 FEB 04
||F1: 275-281; F3: 62-68
||Detainee refused to shackle up for random cell search.
||IRF team extracted him from cell; checked by medical in the rec area, cleared and returned to cell.
||Redaction in the summary of incident in typed report; handwritten account says he was lying on front side upon entry and they secured right leg.
|21||29 FEB 04
||F1: 305-311; F3: 92-98
||Detainee refused to shackle up for random cell search.
||IRF team activated and entered cell; detainee's right arm was secured and they extracted him from cell to rec yard; checked by medical and returned to cell.
||Significant redaction in the handwritten accounts.
|22||01 MAR 04
||F1: 298-304; F3: 85-91
||Detainee refused to shackle up for transportation to reservations.
||IRF team activated, extracted detainee from cell; detainee checked, cleared by medical, and turned over to escort team for transport to reservations.
||Significant redaction; one handwritten account says that upon entering cell, detainee did not want to walk so IRF team carried him outside and when they put him down he said he would walk; redaction in the statement.
|23||13 JUL 04
||F1: 1-2, 24
||Refused to return dinner plate and cup; didn't comply with cell search.
||FCE, then checked, cleared by medical, and returned.
|24||13 JUL 04
||F1: 35, 46, 57, 63
||Refused to comply with directions for random cell search.
||FCE after having been restrained, had medical clearance, then was returned to cell.
|25||15 JUL 04
||F1: 155-163; F2: 55-63
||Refused to come out of cell for shower and recreation.
||Extracted from cell and carried down walkway, then had medical check before being returned.
||Detainee said it was against religion for females to touch him but was told they don't observe showers but perform other functions that men do; a typed report in second file says ARRIVAL DATE FOR ISN [REDACTED] HIS DOB IS [REDACTED] REQUIRED ENTRY.
|26||28 NOV 04
||Detainee refused rec and shower and also refused to come out for cell search.
||FCE team assembled, entered cell and restrained detainee, who was brought to cell [REDACTED] and searched, then cleared by medical.
||Same as 28 NOV 04 incident at 8:55?
|27||28 NOV 04
||F2: 97-98, 100-102
||Detainee standing on toilet when team arrived, was finally restrained after resisting, taken out of cell.
||Does not say what provoked the team going to the cell in the first place.
|28||28 NOV 04
||F1: 190-192, 195-203;
F2: 90-92, 95, 99
|Refused to go out for shower and recreation; was told he needed to exit cell for cell search.
||FCE team assembled; detainee secured in hand and leg irons, removed from cell, searched (contraband found three cups, two salt packets, and orange peels), then put in [REDACTED].
||Detainee said, refusing to put arms behind back, "I'm not an animal. I will not allow the MPs to humiliate me. If they do this I will fight [REDACTED] like a man. I will throw shit in there [sic] face everytime they open the bean hole"; all items taken from cell; same as 28 NOV 04 at 8:30?
|29||07 APR 05
|Refused shower and recreation; punched Block MP in stomach and spit on him during shackling; refused to have bean hole closed; threw urine and feces on officials; refused removal of Basic Issue items.
||IRF shield placed over bean hole and it was secured shut; FCE, with detainee shackled and taken to recreation yard for examination; fed lunch upon return.
||Incident took place over period of about four hours; initial refusal of shower and rec. was around 8:40, FCE completed 12:45, lunch served around 13:00; one account said it was during random cell search; detainee upset due to prior incident.
|30||07 APR 05
||F1: 214-217, 226, 231-237;
F3: 1-4, 13, 18-24
||Refused to remove towel covering cell window; became angry/threatening when told he'd have to give up shirt and pants once back in cell (after FCE).
||FCE; hands secured with flexi-cuffs; assessment, moved back to cell; authorized removal of Basic Issue items upon extraction; shears used to cut and remove shirt and pants in rec yard.
||When asked if injured while in rec yard detainee said something to the effect that he was at war with all present; one of the accounts says he suffered scrapes on his arm; entire FCE was videotaped.
|31||03 JUN 05
||F1: 228-230, 238-241;
F3: 15-17, 25-28
||Basic Items needed to be removed from cell due to earlier incident; detainee became violent and non-compliant after shackling, spit on one official and tried to head-butt another.
||Detainee shackled with hand and leg irons during Basic Item removal; detainee taken to ground and secured; Basic Items were removed then detainee unrestrained.
||No injuries reported from anyone.
|32||13 JUN 05
||Refused to come out when told he needed to move for reservation; said things like "If I have knife I kill my interrogator" and "He is a dead man that son of a bitch"; went back to bed and sat down.
||Officer left the cell to inform S.O.G. (Sargeant of the Guard) of what happened.
||Does not say anything about the role of the IRF team in this incident.
|33||13 JUN 05
||F1: 178-181, 183-189;
F2: 78-81, 83-89
||Refused to come out of cell for Intel Reservation.
||Lots of redaction; chain of command informed; detainee was secured, removed from cell, searched, and placed in [REDACTED] (chair?) for two minutes; medical evaluation; placed back in cell.
||Redaction in typed report does not reveal what was done to detainee in process of FCE, though from other accounts it appears this included being placed in a chair with hands and legs secured.
|34||19 JUN 05
|A command was called out on the radio signaling FCE, but statements do not say exactly why it was called.
||Detainee tried to stab IRF officer in stomach with spork during FCE; secured with arm bar, wrist lock, and flexi cuffs; put on spineboard, transported to Camp [REDACTED].
||Same as following incident? Details IRF gear: helmet, chest protector, elbow pads, gloves, shin guards, and shield; handwritten account says "we lined up for the camera"; significant redaction; "safety equipment 'dressout'" before FCE.
|35||19 JUN 05
|Camp Platoon leader was ordered to initiate FCE; detainee threw MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) items at guard striking him in left ear and drawing blood.
||Detainee was subdued by the IRF team, put on a backboard and moved to [REDACTED].
||Same as previous incident?
|36||19 JUN 05
||Detainee was restrained, taken into causeway and placed on stretcher secured by medical; from there he was to be escorted to Block [REDACTED].
||Handwritten statement says that "primary [REDACTED] was called over radio…we entered the cell…it was already occupied"; another handwritten one mentions detainee having a spork in hand; same as June 19, 2005 incident at 15:48?
|37||19 JUN 05
||F1: 267-274, 290,
F3: 54-61, 77
|Failure to comply to Behavioral Health's instructions to move to a different block (does not specify if it was supposed to be a permanent move).
||FCE by secondary IRF team; detainee grabbed guard and took whistle while refusing to relinquish food items from previous meal; detainee subdued by IRF team, hands and legs restrained, secured, put on backboard, moved to different cell.
||Cell slippery with toothpaste, water; official slipped, detainee choked official so he could not "stop him...but to bite his fingers"; used "pressure points on the detainee's neck and [ILLEGIBLE]" because detainee spitting; says alternate IRF code "Elvis" called; second page of a detailed handwritten statement is missing.
|38||01 JUL 05
||F1: 139-141, 143, 146, 250; F2: 39-41, 43, 46; F3: 37
||Detainee refused to be relocated from one cell to another.
||FCE was used to move detainee to different cell.
||Reason for move was that detainee was found to be speaking native Filipino language with food service personnel.
|39||01 JUL 05
||Likely belongs with one of the other July 1, 2005 incidents.
|40||01 JUL 05
||F1: 145, 242-249, 251; F2: 45; F3: 29-36, 38
||Detainee detached footpad from toilet and was told he would be moved, which he refused.
||FCE, during which one of two Korans in the cell was "inadvertently damaged"; put in restraints; detainee received lacerations to his lip and forehead and taken to clinic for medical assessment.
||Detainee was turned over to corpsman after IRF [FCE?] was completed; significant redaction in the statements for this incident; an alternate/secondary IRF team was called.
|41||02 JUL 05
||FCE; was pinned in the back while standing on bed then brought down to floor and kept resisting.
||The statements said that they had received the calls to perform FCE but they do not say what prompted it.
|42||15 JUL 05
|Detainee refused to remove towel from cell window; PL (Platoon Leader?) began opening bean hole to inspect cell and detainee attacked guards with towel with knot at end.
||"Weapon" (the towel with a knot at the end) was secured by guard force and the bean hole shut; detainee was directed in the [REDACTED].
||Something was done to make the detainee drop the "improvised weapon," but that part is blocked out of the typed report; behavioral health and medical on scene.
|43||16 JUL 05
|Detainee had accepted his tray and put it on his bunk; after accepting fruit he grabbed his tray and threw food out bean hole and attempted to strike [REDACTED].
||"[REDACTED] to halt the assault…Medical was called and responded to ensure he was properly [REDACTED]."
||Typed report said that detainee is currently on "cup loss" and was asked if he wanted his drink poured in his tray lid.
1. Times of Incidents are taken from the "Summary of Incident" sections of the typed reports.
2. Rear Admiral Harry Harris was JTF GTMO Commander from April 2006 to May 2007.
3. The number of minutes after 2200 hours is illegible in the released document.
Research for this report was conducted by Sonia Saini. The research was supervised by Almerindo Ojeda, who drafted this report.