News: Providing Morale Welfare Recreation in the Camps
Story by Spc. Megan Burnham
By Megan Burnham
Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – It is the mission of the Joint Task Force Detainee Programs Department to provide media materials and literacy classes to detained enemy combatants. This is part of the privileges and special programs made available to detainees based on their compliancy status with camp rules.
"We are basically Morale, Welfare and Recreation for them," said Army Pfc. Phillip Allen, a library technician.
The two main sections of the Detainee Programs Department are the library program and the literacy program.
Since it began in 2003, the library program has obtained almost 7,000 media materials comprised of more than 6,000 books in 18 different languages, as well as magazines and DVDs. In addition, nearly 100 new books arrive each month to keep the inventory of books fresh and up to date.
"We are always looking for new materials," said Navy Lt. Cmdr Brian Leep, detainee programs officer-in-charge. "Some [books] we can easily find. The harder languages are donated by the International Community of the Red Cross."
Based on compliancy status, a detainee is given the opportunity once a week to check out material that can be kept for up to two weeks. They can either select from a variety of materials off the cart or request a book specifically.
Other media material offered twice a week is USA Today and an Arabic newspaper called the Al Ahram.
The literacy program gives detainees the opportunity to take classes to improve their literacy and grammar skills in their native language as well as in English.
"I think it's a great program for two reasons," Leep said. "Number one is that it allows detainees the opportunities to expand their thoughts outside of the local community and to educate them about other cultures in the world. The other reason is that it provides a better way to occupy their time and to be productive."
These sections are manned by a work team consisting of both military personnel and civilians.
"They do an outstanding job working together as a team to make sure each camp still receives their weekly service despite hurricane warnings and holidays," Leep said.
The Detainee Programs Department continues to maintain and increase their media inventory, and they also plan to expand the literacy program by offering it to all camps, as well as introducing humanities classes.