There's Another Side Of Guantanamo Bay That Is Rarely Seen

Guantanamo Bay Naval Station and Detention centre 11Guantanamo Bay Naval Station and Detention centre

Photo: Robert Johnson/Business Insider

The U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is more than just a prison.While the detention facility has gained infamy for housing enemy combatants since 2002, locking up terrorism suspects is just a small part of the overall mission of those stationed here.

Located on the southeastern end of Cuba, “Gitmo” has served as a vital refueling station and safe port for U.S. ships since 1898. Military members serving here provide regional security for Navy and Coast Guard ships — and guard towers along miles of fence line serve as a constant reminder that they are in unfriendly territory.

Many journalists who travel here only cover the detention facility — and miss the hidden gems.

This is probably what comes to mind when most people think of Guantanamo Bay.

Small cells filled with mostly faceless, nameless people from…wherever…

The only thing certain for many is that detainees here are doing hard time. Whatever that is.

But time here is far less 'hard' than at any stateside prison filled with Americans. Fact is, the detention facility is one small part of Guantanamo Bay.

Guantanamo Bay is filled with American servicemembers doing their job like they would at any other duty station.

It's days of physical training.

Entertainment, when possible.

And whatever it takes to keep faith, while on a mission that no one at home really understands.

While it's beautiful here, the sense of isolation is palpable

Even as the troops and civilians stationed here try to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Since 9/11, the number of troops and family members stationed here is immense.

Making a home in a small corner of Cuba.

GTMO is a strange place.

Everywhere you see parts of the naval base that were abandoned years or decades ago.

This overgrown volleyball field hasn't been played on for perhaps 45 years.

Another remnant of old GTMO

And the new GTMO

The only thing that hasn't changed are the men and women who serve here.

And serving here is an unusual honour that unites them among themselves, if only pushing them a bit farther away from everyone at home.

But all five branches of the military will keep doing what they do here, until someone tells them to stop.

And in the meantime, they'll just do what they've always done: accomplish their mission and try to have some fun.

You've seen another side of Guantanamo Bay ...

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