Secretary of Defense James Mattis regularly pays unexpected visits to service members deployed all around the world. He likes to get a feel for conditions “on the ground” and hear from our armed forces directly about their cares and concerns.
Well, Mattis recently traveled to a military base for Christmas that former President Barack Obama had long promised he would close.
Check out the details, per Daily Caller:
And this Christmas, Mattis chose to make a trip that no secretary of defense has made in almost two decades.
Mattis traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and was the first SECDEF to do so since 2002. The move is a controversial one, given that the base is a prison internment camp which the Obama administration had promised to close many times.
Obama was never able to fulfill on his promise of closing the base, though he did succeed in dwindling the number of terrorist combatants interned there.
Mattis has been opaque in his position on closing Guantanamo Bay. When asked his position on the closure of the base, he simply said: “I believe that we should develop a repeatable detainee policy that is appropriate for enemy combatants taken prisoner under such circumstances.”
Per the Associated Press, Mattis did not visit the controversial detainment center for political purposes:
Mattis was meeting with troops, not touring the detention facilities or discussing detainee policy options. His stay comes amid uncertainty over the Trump administration’s policy on continued use of the military prison.
President Donald Trump hasn’t released any Guantanamo prisoners or added any to the list of men who have been officially cleared to go home or to a third country for resettlement.
Mattis is the first defense secretary to visit Guantanamo Bay since Donald Rumsfeld in January 2002, just weeks after the first prisoners arrived from Afghanistan in the early stages of the fight against Al-Qaeda.
Mattis is beloved by the troops and actually has one of the highest approval ratings within the entire Trump administration.