By Spc. Shanita Simmons, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 14, 2008 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited the naval station here yesterday to share his vision for the joint services and express his gratitude to those serving here. Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen toured the new Expeditionary Legal Complex and the detention facilities, where he thanked servicemembers guarding detainees for their service. He also met with servicemembers in a "town hall" meeting, where he discussed goals for the military and Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
"JTF Guantanamo has performed extraordinarily well and has really delivered during a difficult mission," Mullen said. "The naval station has also done great work to support the mission here. I am equally proud of what the naval station has done."
During his visit, Mullen spoke favorably of the need to continue fostering the integrated capabilities that have allowed servicemembers to perform the JTF mission in a safe and professional manner.
"The world is focused on Guantanamo Bay. We've got to get it right every single hour. The consequences of getting it wrong could be global," the chairman said.
Although Mullen acknowledged he's gone on record in support of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, he said no decision has been made to do so.
"There is no decision to close Guantanamo Bay. Clearly, we have worked our way in the last several years through processes, which have allowed us to understand where we are and what we are doing in a very comprehensive way," he said. "Guantanamo Bay is known to the world, and there are many who editorialize on the fact that Guantanamo Bay should be closed down. The decision to close it down would be made completely out of our purview, and I am not aware of anyone who is considering doing that."
The Joint Task Force mission here plays an essential part in fighting the war on terror, Mullen said, and the operations here are necessary to help protect Americans against possible terrorist attacks.
"The joint detention operation is a part of mitigating risk," he said. "We need to keep the detention facilities operating as best as they can be to protect Americans against individuals who have pretty bad backgrounds in terms of the war on terror. This facility helps mitigate that global risk."
(Army Spc. Shanita Simmons serves with Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs.)