MN National Guard soldiers will head to Guantanamo Bay for the first time

They'll help in the mission to conduct "safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees."
Author:
Updated:
Original:

More than 120 of Minnesota's National Guard soldiers will be headed to serve at Guantanamo Bay.

The Monticello-based 257th Military Police Company will be headed to the Cuban military facility to assist in Joint Task Force Guantanamo – an effort between military branches to conduct "safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees, including those convicted by military commission," according to its website.

It's the first time the Minnesota National Guard will be in Guantanamo Bay.

"Our unit is trained and ready to professionally carry out this very important mission," Capt. Jon Schliesing, commander of the 257th Military Police Company, said in a news release.

Before heading out, they'll get specialized training based on operating procedures at the facility. The 257th Military Police Company was in Iraq from 2004-05 and Afghanistan from 2012-13, where they were responsible for coaching, teaching and mentoring Afghan National Army members.

There's a deployment ceremony 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Monticello High School.

Background on Guantanamo Bay

Joint Task Force Guantanamo was created after detainees from the War on Terror arrived at the base in 2002.

Military personnel that are part of the task force manage the detention facility, and serve varying tour lengths, the American Forces Press Service says.

"The 2,200 JTF personnel live alongside the roughly 9,000 permanent-party sailors, family members, U.S. government civilians and contractors, and third-country nationals who reside and work here," according to the story.

The site itself has been mired in controversy, including claims of abuse and mistreatment. Gitmo has also persisted as a legal quagmire, The Independent explains.

Though the military has argued that's a misinformed image. In this lengthy 2006 National Guard story, soldiers explain the hard work they put in to care for the detainees there – as well as what they put up with.

"There’s the misperception that you see on television of Camp X-Ray," Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr., JTF-GTMO commander, said in the story. "That’s the guys outside in orange jumpsuits. Camp X-Ray was only open for four months in 2002, and then it was closed, and then we moved folks into Camp Delta."

The Joint Task Force also notes more than 3,400 news media representatives have visited the site since 2002.

What's going on there now

There are now just 41 detainees at the U.S. military prison on the base, the New York Times says. Roughly 780 people have been sent there since 2002. Former President Barack Obama had whittled down that figure since taking office in 2009, from 242 detainees to the current number – that's after releasing some to Oman in the waning days of his administration, NPR reported.

He did not fulfill a campaign promise to close the prison, which houses foreign suspects in the War on Terror – many have been deemed too dangerous to let go, but there isn't enough evidence to convict them in court, The Economist explained.

New President Donald Trump has called for an end to the releases, and on the campaign trail promised to "load it up with some bad dudes," as NPR reported.

Recent figures show, of the 693 detainees released since 2002, 122 have been confirmed to have re-engaged in terrorism, Politifact said. Another 86 are suspected of having done so.

Next Up

coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2

Minnesota confirms America's 1st case of Brazil P.1 COVID strain

The strain was found in a Twin Cities metro resident who recently traveled to Brazil.

classroom

Gov. Walz announces education plan aimed at eliminating disparities

The plan covers seven categories, including closing the racial education gap and improving opportunities in rural Minnesota

Tax forms

Charges: Otsego cleaning business underreported sales

An Otsego woman is accused of owing more than $20,500 in sales tax, penalties and interest.

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 2.58.26 PM

Walz gives vaccine providers 3-day, 7-day deadlines to use doses

Those that don't use their allocation will be given less in the future.

purse

Border officers seize more than $550K in counterfeit designer goods

The shipments of fake goods were seized on Jan. 22.

Landfill plastic bags

4 Twin Cities landfills seek to expand capacity

This comes as the area's waste-to-energy facilities are operating at capacity.

Marcus Carr

3 of 10 finalists for NCAA's top point guard award have MN ties

Not a bad way to represent the State of... Basketball?

Justice, court

Minnesota grants unconditional pardon to grandmother facing deportation

Gov. Tim Walz says it's the first full pardon granted by the state in 35 years.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota changes vaccine appointment process, here's what to know

Walz also announced plans for a mass vaccination event at Xcel Energy Center.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, Jan. 25

The latest figures from MDH have been released.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota health leaders say state's vaccine progress better than figures suggest

Minnesota is lagging behind national vaccination rates, but MDH leaders say this is because it's holding 2nd doses in reserve.

Related

Missing MN National Guard soldier found dead near Duluth

The body of Joel Costa was found a day after he failed to show for drill duty.

U.S. service member killed in Somalia for the first time in over 20 years

It's the first U.S. combat death in the African country since 1993's “Black Hawk Down" catastrophe.

How MN lawmakers voted on the Guantanamo Bay detainee transfer ban

The U.S. House voted to stop transfers and releases from Guantanamo Bay. Here's how Minnesota's U.S. lawmakers voted.

DAPL blocked by the Army – but the builder says it plans to push ahead

They will not allow the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

Why Minneapolis is asking for MN National Guard help during the Super Bowl

The city has 888 police officers – but that won't be enough to cover everything.