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Prisoner Uprising In Iraq Exposes New Risk for U.S.

"That is a judgment call for the MPs to make," said Lt. Col. Tim Houser, commander of the 105th Military Police Battalion, which has charge of Camp Bucca. "They felt there was potential for loss of life or grievous bodily injury."

Brandenburg, the commander of detention operations in Iraq, said he sees no need to revise the rules governing use of force by U.S. military guards. But he has directed officers here to ensure that all guards understand the rules.

A U.S. soldier guards Camp Bucca's Theater Internment Facility, which has been the site of several disturbances. (Nabil Al Jurani -- AP)

About half the guards belong to Houser's Army National Guard battalion and have been on duty in Iraq for nearly four months. The others belong to an Air Force security unit, the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, which arrived in January.

Commanders also have provided guards with new nonlethal guns that shoot longer-range, plastic projectiles. In addition, the camp has received a new 1,000-gallon firetruck whose spray can be used against rioting inmates.

Brandenburg has ordered more cameras installed at all compounds to intensify surveillance, and he has instructed officers here to do more to gather intelligence on the prison population.

"You can't do enough to figure out who the bad guys are," he told the senior staff at a meeting last week. "We're detaining a harder-core crowd, and so the approach has to be more prison-like. We've got to get very good at this to get ahead of it."

A new maximum-security facility with segregated metal cells is being built at the camp. Brandenburg said it should help set the troublemakers apart.

The guards here say the Jan. 31 riot has made them more vigilant.

"I learned that things can get bad in a hurry, so don't be complacent," Coggswell said.

Added Spec. Kevin Plemmons, a guard in compound No. 4: "Really, you can't trust these guys at all. You have to be on your toes."

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