On Thursday, Kurt Walter Tidd, a high ranking United States Navy admiral, currently serving as the Commander of the United States Southern Command, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is now “prepared” to receive an influx of new detainees.
“We have 41 detainees who are there right now. We are prepared to receive more should they be directed to us,” Admiral Kurt Tidd, told lawmakers.
“As of today we have not been given a warning order that new detainees might be heading in our direction, but our responsibility will be to integrate them in effectively,” he added.
During President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech last month, Trump said he had signed an executive order directing Secretary of Defense James Mattis to “re-examine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay.”
“I am asking Congress to ensure that in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists wherever we chase them down, wherever we find them. And In many cases for them it will now be Guantánamo bay,” Trump said during his speech.
The executive order is a significant reversal of his predecessor Barack Obama’s administration.
AFP notes that Guantanamo Bay has not received any new inmates since 2008, but that could be changing under the Trump administration, as he plans on expanding the forever war on terrorism.
US military officials have been openly discussing the fate of Islamic State group detainees, mainly foreign fighters, held by US-backed militias in northern Syria. Guantanamo has not received any new inmates since 2008 but on the campaign trail, Trump vowed to load the facility with “bad dudes,” and said it would be “fine” if US terror suspects were sent there for trial. During his State of the Union speech in January, Trump said IS captives would in “many cases” end up in Guantanamo.
Earlier last month, we reported on the Arizona National Guard unit deploying to Cuba to support operations in Guantanamo Bay. Despite the rumors of the prison closing, it appears that the Trump administration is preparing for a ramp-up period. The soldiers won’t have contact with the detainees and they are expected to serve a nine-month rotation which started at the beginning of January.
These soldiers leaving for Guantanamo Bay in the coming days in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“There was some discussion some time back about actually shutting it down. Right now that’s not what’s going to happen so it’s still very important for us service members to be prepared to go and continue that mission,” said Arizona Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major Fidel Zamora.
That’s exactly what nearly 50 Arizona Army National Guard soldiers will soon be doing.
“Part of that is being able to inform and advise the Joint Task Force Commander there on military police tasks and procedures and part of that is just making sure that the staff runs effectively on a day to day basis,” said Colonel Rich Baldwin, the Land Component Commander of the Arizona Army National Guard.
This mission is so sensitive we were asked not to show the faces of these soldiers and their families.
“We don’t want to telegraph to the world who is going, who’s there and who’s performing this mission because they all have families that are still back here while they’re overseas doing this mission,” Colonel Baldwin said.
Last November, Trump said, “Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system…”
Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017
After more than 15-years of America’s never-ending wars on terror, the one thing that President Trump has failed to mention is an exit strategy. Nevertheless, America’s war spending has not just bankrupted this once great nation to the tune of trillions, it has depleted the inner core of the American economy. The one question we ask: With the Trump administration rapidly preparing for an influx of new prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, who will those new prisoners be?