Rear Adm. Edward Cashman, 51, is due to assume command of the downsizing detention center early next year, replacing Rear Adm. Peter Clarke, a submariner whose onward assignment has yet to be disclosed. No exact date was provided in the Department of Defense announcement. Cashman's assignment was already in the Pentagon pipeline before the presidential election.
Cashman's official title will be commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, known in military circles as JTF-GTMO. A JTF is by definition a temporary operation that draws members from all of the Pentagon services.
Cashman also becomes the ninth commander assigned to run the prison operation since President Barack Obama ordered his administration to close the detention center, and now the first to run it following the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to keep it open and "load it up with some bad dudes."
As of Thursday, the detention center had 60 captives, 20 of the men approved for release with security assurances that satisfy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and a staff of around 1,900 troops and civilians. President Barack Obama said Monday that some of those transfers "may be taking place over the next two months."
Cashman, a Massachusetts native, got a mechanical engineering degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most of his career has been in the Navy although his current position, as director of the Pentagon's Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization since November, involves all the services.
The Joint Task Force Commander has oversight of the predominantly Army guard force, an intelligence unit, logistics and personnel as well as a U.S. Coast Guard unit that patrols parts of Guantanamo Bay and the waters off the coastal prison complex.
Cashman ran a combined Navy-Coast Guard operation of patrol craft in the Persian Gulf, where U.S. military sometimes engage Iranian vessels. That's just what happened in January 2012, when a Coast Guard patrol boat, the Monomoy, saved six Iranian mariners from an unseaworthy cargo dhow whose engine room was flooding in a "night time rescue at sea" celebrated by Cashman, then commander of Task Force 55, overseeing the operation.
In assuming the job, Cashman becomes the 17th flag officer to run the detention center since Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert opened it on Jan. 11, 2002 with the first 20 captives from Afghanistan. Most have been Navy one-star officers, like Cashman, on one-year assignment although in the early years Army generals ran the prison.