U.S. President Donald Trump’s Pentagon is reportedly expected to spend nearly half a billion dollars on new construction at the American military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a sign that the commander-in-chief may keep his campaign promise to use the prison to house newly captured jihadists.
According to the Miami Herald:
Behind the scenes, the U.S. military is planning for nearly a half-billion dollars in new construction during the Trump administration, including a Navy request to build a $250 million, five-bed hospital … in two other major projects, Congress is poised to give the Army $124 million to build a new barracks for 848 prison troops to be ready four years from now. And on a different corner of the base, the Pentagon is soliciting bids of up to $100 million to build a skeletal structure for a 13,000-migrant tent city and housing for 5,000 U.S. forces.
News of the new construction comes after the State Department confirmed to Breitbart News that it has requested $1.2 million for salaries and operational expenses for the Special Envoy for Closure of the Guantanamo Detention Facility, a move that raised concerns that Trump may not be committed to shutting down the prison, commonly known as Gitmo.
Citing a draft order intended to address the detention of terrorist elements abroad, the New York Times reported this year that the Trump administration was indeed considering ordering the Pentagon to continue using Gitmo.
The Miami Herald notes that proposed construction of a hospital at Gitmo has been singled out for study by a Senate panel.
“It was the hospital plan that prompted the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee to ask Defense Secretary James Mattis to conduct an analysis of ‘remote locations with high family support costs’ — noting the ‘proposed $250 million replacement hospital at Guantánamo Bay would cost $50 million per bed,’” reports the newspaper.
“The Senate tasked Mattis to undertake a ‘comprehensive study‘ that essentially asks the Pentagon to take a hard look at the costs of bringing families to distant, remote places like Guantánamo Bay and Kwajalein in the South Pacific,” it adds. “The Pentagon proposes to build 52 family homes at a cost of $1.3 million each on the atoll in the Marshall Islands. The Senate, however, called small post, so-called unaccompanied tours costly, “which is a primary reason why locations such as Diego Garcia are unaccompanied.’”
Former President Barack Obama often argued in favor of shutting down Gitmo, claiming that it was an expensive endeavor often used as a recruiting tool by jihadists.
Obama failed to keep his campaign promise to close down the Guantanamo facility.
However, Obama did reduce the prison population to 41, down from the 242 who were there when he took office in 2009.
Currently, Gitmo houses about 5,500 residents and 41 detainees.