Special Operations News

USSOCOM Reviews Evidence Processes

MacDill Air Force Base, FL — More than 75 officials from across the U.S. government participated in a battlefield evidence senior leader seminar on Dec. 6 at the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Wargame Center on MacDill Air Force Base.

Ambassador Nathan A.Sales, the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, and Gen. Raymond Thomas, Commander of USSOCOM, co-hosted the event designed to develop solutions and recommendations to improve the ability of both U.S. and partner nations to more effectively use battlefield evidence in criminal justice prosecutions.

Leading the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, Amb. Sales serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary of State on international counterterrorism matters.

 “Battlefield evidence is critical in addressing a broad range of national security objectives.  The United States and our partners can use this information to investigate and prosecute foreign terrorist fighters, screen and watch list terrorist suspects, or deny them entry and protect our borders,” Ambassador Sales said.

U.S.senior leaders from the Department of State, Department of Justice and Department of Defense launched the battlefield evidence initiative in late 2017. With a strong record of convicting terrorists using information that its military forces collected, it was determined that an initial review of DoD procedures could illuminate best practices and shape the guiding principles.

The seminar co-hosted by USSOCOM discussed the status of non-binding principles intended to form the basis of capacity building such as recommendations regarding collective efforts that can be instituted to help standardize how information is collected, stored, analyzed, and shared with partners in order to improve domestic and foreign terrorism prosecutions.

The U.S. military has become intimately familiar with battlefield evidence procedures required to prosecute violent extremists. Developing standardized procedures and specialized skills to collect, preserve and exploit materials with our partner militaries is necessary to ensure prosecution in countries that do not have the legal authority to admit information collected by non-law enforcement entities in a civilian criminal case.  The authenticity and reliability of battlefield evidence is essential to providing the necessary factual basis for determining guilt.

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