US officially hands over military prison to Afghans

One of the largest U.S. military prisons for suspected terrorists is now officially under Afghan control.

Afghan National Security Forces took control of the Parwan detention facility and all terror detainee operations in the country. 

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Gen. Faroq Barekzai took the reins of Afghan Detention Operations Command from U.S. and coalition forces in a ceremony in Afghanistan on Sunday. 

The Afghan president named Barekzai as the head of detainee ops last Thursday, according to a Pentagon release issued Monday. 

The move was heralded as the first step toward transitioning all security operations in Afghanistan to local forces by 2014. That is when the Obama administration plans to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country. 

Roughly 23,000 American soldiers are set to rotate back to the United States this summer. 

However, some on Capitol Hill do not think Afghan forces are ready to take on the job. 

The Afghans do not have the means or ability to take over the massive, U.S.-led terror detainee operations, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) told top military brass in March. 

“Accelerating of the transfer of the detainees to Afghan custody presents real concerns for me. I don't think they have the capacity, at this point, based on my personal observations, to assume the security of these detention facilities,” Brown said during a March 12 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

The Massachusetts Republican had specific concerns regarding the handover of the Parwan facility. 

Located at the U.S. Air Force base in Bagram, Parwan houses roughly 3,000 insurgents captured by U.S. and coalition forces. 

Initially designed as a temporary holding point for suspected terrorists, the Parwan facility now holds more prisoners than the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I've seen the caliber of an Afghan corrections officer soldier ... [and] I've got to be honest with you, I have deep concerns,” he said.

Aside from the Afghans' ability to conduct detainee operations, one key defense lawmaker had some harsh words for the U.S. military's seeming inability to track terror suspects once they have been released from American custody. 

 “One of the big issues is we have . . . is that it’s difficult to determine who has re-engaged,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said during a March 6 panel hearing. 

 “We can’t always reconfirm who’s out there, who’s back fighting us again. And often we find them when we encounter them, [on] the battlefield or elsewhere . . . [and] one terrorist re-engaging is too many,” she said at the time. 

Amid those concerns, top U.S. officials in the country praised the handover. 

"This is a symbolic and visible step marking the progress we continue to make in partnership with the Afghan government as we work to develop and uphold the sovereignty they rightfully deserve." Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in the release. 

The move also represents a "commitment to an enduring partnership" between Washington and Kabul, even after U.S. forces leave the country, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said in the same release.