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Navy names new commander for Guantanamo prison

In this Navy file photo from 2008, then-Commodore Kyle Cozad, commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Eleven, speaks with P-3 workers and thanks them for their dedication to Zone 5 wing repair of an aircraft.

The Navy on 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 1995 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 holding 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, Fla., 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 Adviser “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.

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