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South Dakota guard unit headed for year at Guantanamo Bay

January 7, 2022 GMT

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — About 110 members of the South Dakota National Guard’s police unit will soon be headed to Cuba for a year-long federal deployment.

The 235th Military Police Company, based in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, will train at Fort Bliss, Texas for several weeks before deploying overseas.

The unit will provide detention support for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, a U.S. military joint task force based at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

“This is the moment we have been preparing for almost the last 16 months. We have put in a lot of time, effort and sacrifice so we could accomplish this difficult mission,” Capt. Pat Moran, the company’s commander told his soldiers during a send-off ceremony this week.

“One thing that I know about the 235th, is we are ready, we are trained, and we have the leaders and experience to handle this mission. I know that our soldiers and family will get through this next year together,” Moran said.

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The unit was deployed twice to Afghanistan in 2013 and 2007, but has never served at Guantanamo.

“We simply cannot say thank you enough on behalf of a grateful state and a grateful nation,” U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson told the soldiers. “For those of us who have not served we cannot know the kind of cost this has on families and our citizen-soldiers, so we just have to say thank you.”