Metro-East News

Roger That: U.S. pays $4.4 million per year for each inmate at Guantanamo Bay

With the Obama administration poised to present its prison closure plan to Congress this week, one question it may answer is how many guards it really takes to secure the declining number of war-on-terror detainees.

The Miami Herald is reporting that 2,000 troops and civilians are stationed here to staff the prison and court alone, by one measure working out to $4.4 million a year for each of the last 91 detainees.

That’s not because the huge staff is on standby for the possibility that the prison population might grow. Obama administration policy prohibits bringing new war-on-terror captives here.

Rather, the warden said in a recent interview that he staffs for the worst-case scenario at this remote outpost on Cuba’s southeastern tip — that each and every captive suddenly needs to be confined alone inside a cell rather than the current climate of most captives cooperating with their guards and allowed to live communally.

***

A report published Monday by the Center for a New American Security, a D.C.-based think tank that focuses on national security, claims that the Navy’s carrier operations are at an inflection point. Faced with growing threats abroad, the United States can either “operate its carriers at ever-increasing ranges … or assume high levels of risk in both blood and treasure,” according to a story in the Washington Post.

The report, titled “Red Alert: The Growing Threat to U.S. Aircraft Carriers,” centers around China’s burgeoning military posture in the Pacific and on a term that is starting to appear with an ever-increasing urgency in defense circles: anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD. The term A2/AD centers around a concept that has long existed in warfare: denying the enemy an ability to move around the battlefield.

A2/AD strategy is as similar as it was when moats were dug around castles, except today’s moats are an integrated system of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, submarines, surface ships and aircraft all designed to push enemy forces as far away as possible from strategically important areas.

***

Russia will ask permission to start flying surveillance planes equipped with high-powered digital cameras amid warnings from U.S. intelligence and military officials that such overflights help Moscow collect intelligence on the United States, according to Military.com.

Russia and the United States are signatories to the Open Skies Treaty, which allows unarmed observation flights over the entire territory of all 34 member nations to foster transparency about military activity and help monitor arms control and other agreements. Senior intelligence and military officials, however, worry that Russia is taking advantage of technological advances to violate the spirit of the treaty.

Russia will formally ask the Open Skies Consultative Commission, based in Vienna, to be allowed to fly an aircraft equipped with high-tech sensors over the United States, according to a senior congressional staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the staff member wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

****

French politicians on Sunday commemorated the 100th anniversary of the launch of the Battle of Verdun, one of the bloodiest and longest-lasting battles of World War I. It began with a nine-hour German artillery barrage on the hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France. The battle lasted 10 months, became a catastrophic quagmire for both sides, and consumed the lives of at least 300,000 German and French troops, with another 500,000 wounded.

For the people of France, Verdun became a war-time rallying cry and, for later generations, the ultimate symbol of that nation’s heroic suffering and resistance during World War I.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

  Comments