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American Forces Press Service

New Guantanamo Camp to Pave Way for Future Detention Ops

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, June 28, 2005 For a glimpse at what's ahead for the detention facility here for enemy combatants, look no farther than Camp 4, one of five camps that make up Camp Delta here along Radio Ridge.

Camp 4, the only medium-security camp at Guantanamo Bay, is the most sought-after camp here for detainees here. It's reserved only for those who live by the camp rules and offers them the privilege of living in a communal setting that offers more freedoms and perks than less-cooperative detainees receive.

Army Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, said the camp is proving so successful in encouraging detainees to cooperate with camp rules that he's incorporating lessons learned here in Camp 6, a new, permanent facility to be built here.

"Everyone here knows about Camp 4, and everyone wants to be here," Hood told military analysts who traveled here June 24 to observe detention operations.

Camp 4 offers a wide range of incentives for good behavior. It features a common area that allows detainees to eat, sleep and pray together, Hood explained. Instead of the unpopular orange jumpsuits less cooperative detainees wear, those in Camp 4 wear white clothes that represent something of a status symbol among the detainee population. They get seven to nine hours a day outside their living quarters for recreation. Instead of having their meals delivered to their cells on a tray, they get containers of prepared food that they dish up and eat family-style.

Detainees at Camp 4 get access to volleyball nets and ping-pong tables and are treated to ice cream every Sunday, Hood said. They can request copies of the National Geographic magazines they love and occasionally get to watch Arabic family TV shows and soccer highlights. And five times a day, when the Muslim call to prayer sounds over the camp's speaker system, they get to pull out their prayer rugs, orient them with arrows throughout the camp that point toward Mecca, and pray as a group.

"One thing that is really different in this camp is that we have a working relationship with these people," said Chief Warrant Officer Tom Peal, officer in charge of the camp. "We're here to make them feel as comfortable as possible."

Hood stressed that entree to Camp 4 is not based on how forthcoming a detainee is during interrogations. The price of admission to the camp is simply following camp rules.

"There's a big incentive for detainees to want to be here," said Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Mendez. In fact, during the two years that he's served at Guantanamo Bay, Mendez said he's seen only about 10 detainees get transferred to another camp for bad behavior.

Less cooperative detainees - those who spit at or throw urine and excrement at guards, refuse to leave their cells when ordered to or break other camp rules - live in four other camps, all with more restrictions.

A new facility that recently received funding, Camp 6, will build on successes at Camp 4 in promoting good behavior among detainees, Hood explained.

The camp, the second permanent facility to be built here, will provide a living environment more suitable to long-term detention, officials said. It will offer more communal living, increased access to exercise areas, activities, mail and foreign-language materials, and enhanced medical facilities.

Other perks will be offered depending on detainees' behavior. "We'll be able to ratchet it up or down, based on (a detainee's) compliance," Hood said.

Hood said experience at Guantanamo Bay demonstrates that it generally works to everyone's advantage when there's cooperation on both sides. Detainees are less violent. Guards are safer. Interrogators are more able to build rapport and gather intelligence.

In running a detention facility, "there has to be some give and take," Hood said.

"We're going to treat these detainees humanely. That's the bottom line. But we also want to find some ways to establish rapport and promote cooperation," he said. "That's the best way for us to accomplish our mission here."

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