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Story Publication logo April 29, 2019

Guantánamo Bay Prison Commander Has Been Fired

The entrance to Camp 1 in Guantanamo Bay's Camp Delta. The base's detention camps are numbered based on the order in which they were built, not their order of precedence or level of security. Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem. Cuba, 2018. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Carol Rosenberg tells both big-sweep and incremental stories about the court and captives at...

Rear Adm. John C. Ring. Image courtesy of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Rear Adm. John C. Ring. Image courtesy of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — The commander of the prison at Guantánamo Bay has been fired seven weeks before he was to leave the job.

Adm. Craig S. Faller relieved Rear Adm. John C. Ring for a "loss of confidence in his ability" to lead, the United States Southern Command said on Sunday in a brief statement. Admiral Ring's deputy, Brig. Gen. John F. Hussey, is now the acting commander.

Col. Amanda Azubuike, a spokeswoman for the Southern Command, which oversees the prison, said the decision to remove Admiral Ring had nothing to do with a recent news media visit he hosted there. She said only that he was let go after a monthlong investigation that was opened in March.

Admiral Faller, the leader of the Southern Command, and Admiral Ring met on Saturday at the command's headquarters in Doral, Fla., where Admiral Faller "personally informed" Admiral Ring that he was being fired. Admiral Ring "will be temporarily assigned duties elsewhere" in the Southern Command, Colonel Azubuike said.

Admiral Ring, a former commander of the aircraft carrier Nimitz, was the 18th leader of the prison operations that started in January 2002. He began that assignment in April 2018 and was due to be replaced in a routine rotation the week of June 11.

"The vast majority of commanders complete their assigned tours with distinction," Colonel Azubuike said. "When they fall short, we hold our leaders accountable, which reflects the importance we place on the public's trust and confidence in our military leaders."

At Guantánamo, Admiral Ring was responsible for 40 detainees and a staff of 1,800 troops and civilian employees. Soon after taking charge, he became an outspoken advocate of the need to build a new prison for 15 men who had been held by the C.I.A. before their 2006 transfer to American military custody.

In 2013 and 2014, Gen. John F. Kelly, a former Southern Command leader who would become President Trump's first homeland security secretary and second chief of staff, had unsuccessfully lobbied Congress for money to replace the prison.

Admiral Ring renewed that effort last June, telling reporters that the current top-secret prison where the military segregates high-value detainees, called Camp 7, would become inadequate as the prisoners aged. Camp 7 houses Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and other men the C.I.A. previously held as leaders, deputies or foot soldiers of Al Qaeda or other extremist groups.


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War and Conflict

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