News: JTF Guantanamo's Guard Support
Story by Pfc. Christopher Vann
Joint Task Force Guantanamo's Joint Detention Group, consists of Army and Navy service members working together as camp guards for Joint Task Force Guantanamo since 2005, providing safe care of detainees at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo.
The life of a guard is not glamorous, but the service members of the Navy Expeditionary Guard Battalion and the 525th Military Police Battalion perform this duty undauntedly every day, despite the negative portrayal of the detention facilities at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The 525th was established at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in October of 2004 to provide a guard force and internal security within the detention facilities, in support of the JTF mission to provide safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees.
One year later the NEGB, established in 2005 as a joint-service support for the Army Guard mission, has the overall mission of manning, training and equipping a guard force to support the JTF Joint Detention Group and helping to provide for the care and custody of detainees.
Before arriving at the JTF, all guards go through extensive training, first in Gulfport, Miss., then at Fort Lewis, Wash., with training facilities modeled after those at Guantanamo Bay. They learn the skills essential to undertake the demanding work associated with guarding detainees removed from the battlefield, to include cultural awareness training. Some guards have prior experience in detention or corrections, some do not.
Upon completion of their training in Fort Lewis, the JDG combined group arrive at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and complete a two-week, "right-seat, left-seat" training session, where incoming guards train with their outgoing counterparts before assuming their duties.
Whether it is walking the tiers or controlling the gates, the guards uphold the same vigilance and professionalism. Often subject to violent behavior and constant verbal abuse from detainees, the guards continue to perform their mission every day.
"We are constantly roving, back and forth, checking the tiers and the recreation yards," said Army Spc. Theodoro Torres, a corrections specialist.
Guards at JTF Guantanamo both male and female work long shifts, several days a week and are the first line support dealing directly with detainees' needs and complaints.
"We handle everything from getting the detainees' food, to escorting them to recreation time and taking care of their linen needs," said Torres.
The guards who have their own duty sections, can walk an average distance of four miles on any given day, and are responsible for conducting three minute, one minute and line-of-sight checks on all detainees, depending on the level of care needed by the detainee, throughout their shifts.
The guard force makes up the largest portion of the JTF, but there are many other services and personnel who come together in support of the guard force to enable the mission at JTF Guantanamo to continue to run smoothly.
Although they come from different branches of the military, all service members at JTF Guantanamo share a common goal; 'Honor Bound To Defend Freedom."
For more information about Joint Task Force Guantanamo, visit the Web site at www.jtfgtmo.southcom.mil