New admiral to take charge of Guantánamo prison

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad is shown in his official Pentagon photo released by the Department of Defense.
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad is shown in his official Pentagon photo released by the Department of Defense.

The Navy Tuesday named a rear admiral who has served as a pilot and at the White House to be next commanding officer of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, a 1985 Naval Academy graduate, is expected to become the 14th commander of the operation of some 2,200 troops and Pentagon contractors assigned on temporary duty to the prison camps hold 154 foreign men as war-on-terror prisoners.

Six await death penalty trials, three others have been convicted at the war court and some 77 of the captives are approved to leave the prison camps once the State Department negotiates suitable resettlement or repatriation agreements.

The Pentagon announced Cozad’s reassignment from his current post in Norfolk, Va., in a news release six weeks after the Navy revealed that the current prison camps commander, Rear Adm. Richard Butler, will next go to Norfolk as commander of Strike Force Training Atlantic. A handoff ceremony at the Navy base in Cuba is scheduled for sometime this summer. The prison camps commander reports to the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, the Pentagon’s headquarters for military operations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Cozad, a P-3 surveillance plane pilot, worked at the White House Situation Room from 2010 to 2012 where he held the title senior director and was responsible to the National Security Advisor “for intelligence fusion and global crisis situation management within the West Wing,” according to one biography.

He was assigned to Jacksonville in a P-3 training position at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks as well as al-Qaida’s suicide bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen Oct. 12, 2000.

Butler ran the prison camps during a year of diminishing transparency, starting in December when his public affairs unit imposed a blackout on daily disclosures in the long-running hunger strike in the prison camps.

Read more Guantánamo stories from the Miami Herald

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