Immigration Officials Take Custody Of Afghan Army Officers

The three Afghanistan National Army officers who were detained at the Canadian border after taking off from a training program at a military base on Cape Cod are now in custody of U.S. immigration officials, The Associated Press reports:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement Tuesday that the officers face removal proceedings after being charged with administrative immigration violations.

On Monday, the soldiers were detained by the Canadian Border Security Agency while crossing Rainbow Bridge, which connects New York and Ontario at Niagara Falls.

The three men were here taking part in a U.S. Central Command Regional Cooperation training exercise at Joint Base Cape Cod. WBUR's Zeninjor Enwemeka looked into these training programs Monday:

The training exercise — called the regional cooperation exercise — is a multi-national command post exercise overseen by U.S. Central Command that has been occurring annually since 2004. The goal of the program, which is funded by the Department of Defense, is to promote cooperation between foreign nations by giving military personnel from different countries an opportunity to get to know each other and learn from one another.

There is no field training in the program. Instead, participants go through briefings and complete computer-based exercises where they are given different scenarios to work through — including peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance situations.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts National Guard told WBUR Monday that the soldiers, who had proper visas and passports, were allowed to come and go from the base.

"They were allowed to go off as long as they returned to their work," Massachusetts Army National Guard spokesperson James Sahady told WBUR. "But they didn't. It's not illegal to go off the base. Whatever happens when they do return is up to the leadership of their host nation."

Gov. Deval Patrick told reporters Monday that the military did not believe the soldiers posed any danger, and that speculation was that they may have been trying to defect.



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