December 22, 2017
Defense Secretary James Mattis is visiting troops at Guantanamo Bay, marking the first trip to the U.S. Navy base by a Pentagon chief in more than 16 years.
Mattis met with troops Thursday to support them during this Christmas season, and to thank them for their service.
Pentagon officials say there were no talks of detainee policies, or inspections of the detention facilities.
Over 2,000 troops are currently stationed at the facility to oversee the detention of 41 prisoners who remain in custody.
The visit is the first by a defense chief since Donald Rumsfeld made the visit in 2002.
“We set up a government that was intended to be very messy and have three competing power bases…and right now we have all three of those branches of government coequal… the executive… the legislative… and the judicial… all in support of what you’re doing,” Secretary Mattis told service members.
The use of Guantanamo Bay has been a point of contention for the Trump administration.
Since taking office, President Trump has not released or sent any prisoners, but said he is open to using the facility for domestic terrorists.