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Joint Task Force Set Up in Cuba to Oversee Al Qaeda Detainees

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2002 – More than 1,000 U.S. service members are en route to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to provide security for the Al Qaeda detainees under U.S. control.

The base will serve as a temporary holding facility for Al Qaeda, Taliban and other detainees that come under U.S. control during the war on terrorism, DoD officials said. The U.S. Southern Command is in charge of the operation.

Southern Command has activated Joint Task Force-160 to head the detainee operations. The task force is under the command of Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert from Camp Lejeune, N.C. The task force includes active duty service members from Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Roosevelt Roads, P.R.; Camp Lejeune; Norfolk, Va.; Dover Air Force Base, Del., and Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Reserve component personnel will also deploy on this mission. Most personnel will be military police.

The service members will staff the maximum-security installation needed to house the detainees, provide for the detainees' security, and perform support functions, Southern Command officials said.

Up to 2,000 detainees could be housed at the facility, officials said. The first group of 20 Al Qaeda detainees is scheduled to arrive at the Cuban base today. DoD officials stressed that the holding conditions at Guantanamo will be humane and in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

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