The U.S. Navy is sending a new naval officer to assume command of operations at the Guantanamo Bay military prison next year.
Rear Adm. Edward Cashman will serve as the new commander of prison operations at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, announced on Thursday.
Cashman, who currently directs the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization in the Pentagon's Joint Staff, will become the 17th commander of Guantanamo Bay prison operations. His official title will be commander of Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Cashman is expected to assume command of the military prison early next year, the Miami Herald reported. He will replace current commander Rear Adm. Peter Clarke, becoming the ninth commander of prison operations since President Obama directed his administration to shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
Obama has accelerated his effort to close Guantanamo Bay this year, transferring dozens of prisoners to foreign countries. He delivered a plan to Congress earlier this year that would involve moving prisoners not approved for release to stateside prisons, which is currently barred by law.
Many Republicans have strongly objected to Obama's efforts, arguing that the prison should remain open and that transferring remaining prisoners compromises national security. The president, in contrast, has argued that the prison undermines U.S. national security and serves as a recruitment tool for terrorists.
While Obama has whittled the prison population down to 60, President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to keep Guantanamo open and "load it up with some bad dudes." The new commander in charge of Guantanamo prison operations will be the first under the Trump administration.
Obama is expected to release some of the remaining prisoners who have been approved for release in the next two months, before he leaves office.