Hawaii Soldiers Readying for Assignment to Cuba

Lt. Col. Lora Tucker
Lt. Col. Lora Tucker
Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees held at Guantanano Bay, Cuba.
Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees held at Guantanano Bay, Cuba.

Ft. Shafter Flats (KHNL)- Nearly two dozen Hawaii soldiers join the war on terror. They're going to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, next month. The 21 soldiers will be deployed for 18 months with 12 of those on the ground at Guantanamo Bay.

The 305th Press Camp Headquarters of the U.S. Army Reserve enters a political hotbed. This week European Union lawmakers slammed the US and urged the closing of the prison. The U.S. is rejecting those growing world-wide calls.

When he arrives, Sgt. Brian Gruspe will have a lot to document for his Public Affairs Unit. "It'll be stressful but I know the training we go will help us do a great job up there and deal with the media itself." He's military media. Others in his unit will work with civilian media.

Unit commander Lt. Colonel Lora Tucker says her unit will deal with a lot of media. "We have media on the island every single week. Anywhere from 6-8 international media. They're there for almost a week." They'll have a lot to talk about.

This week, the UN told the U.S. Guantanamo must be closed and all prisoners granted a fair trial. This, after a UN report which accuses the US of actions "amounting to torture."

EU Member Elizabeth Lynne testified earlier this week, "My constituent from Mozambique, who was released last year after three years of illegal detention, said he witnessed other inmates being beaten so badly, it may have caused their death."

The U.S. denies the claims. White House press secretary Scott McClellan insists, "We know that these are dangerous terrorists that are being kept at Guantanamo Bay. They are people that are determined to harm innocent civilians or harm innocent Americans."

Lt. Col. Tucker already spent a week at Guantanamo. "As a soldier it made me incredibly proud to see how we're taking care of detainees." She's certain her unit will help defuse the controversy.

"What's shown on the news is old photos. Old news. So that's one of the reason we're doing media operations. So that the media can come and see what's going on and tell the story."

The unit flies out March 9th.