OARDEC Conducts ARBs and CSRTs

International artists showcase musical talent for troopers at GTMO  (2008) 
by Nathaniel Moger

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - Over the course of the near future the world's eyes will intermittently turn its attention to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the historic military commissions of detained enemy combatants. However, before any trial may begin, there are countless hours of hard work by numerous organizations involved with the detainees.

Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathaniel Moger; Navy Capt. Ken Garber, officer in charge of the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants-Forward, meets with a staff member in their office on U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay June 3, 2008. OARDEC makes recommendations to the deputy secretary of defense on whether to release, transfer or continue to detain detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Joint Task Force Guantanamo conducts safe and humane care and custody of detained enemy combatants. The JTF conducts interrogation operations to collect strategic intelligence in support of the Global War on Terror and supports law enforcement and war crimes investigations. JTF Guantanamo is committed to the safety and security of American service members and civilians working inside its detention facilities.

OARDEC Conducts ARBs and CSRTsEdit

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

By Nathaniel Moger
Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs

The Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants is right at the heart of the detention process.

"We conduct tribunals and administrative review boards determining enemy combatant and threat status on detainees held in Guantanamo Bay in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," said Navy Capt. Ken Garber, officer in charge of OARDEC-Forward.

OARDEC stood up May 11, 2004. The Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Gordon England, established OARDEC to provide ARBs for detainees held by Joint Task Force Guantanamo. England was appointed as the designated civilian official with the responsibility of determining whether to release, transfer or continue to detain detainees. OARDEC makes recommendations to England.

On June 28, 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court recommended a military tribunal to determine enemy combatant status based on the ruling held in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld that standards of due process for people being detained would be met by notification and an opportunity to be heard. As a result, England established combatant status review tribunals.

In layman's terms, CSRTs and ARBs allow OARDEC to make detention status recommendations to the Deputy SECDEF upon initial detention and over the course of time.

"Detainees are held in accordance with the law of armed conflict," said Garber. "With CSRTs, the enemy combatant status of the detainee is reviewed after they arrive here in Guantanamo."

CSRTs are comprised of a panel of three officers, one of whom is a legal officer. Despite the presence of a judge advocate general, the process is an administrative review as opposed to a criminal trial.

"After a CSRT the tribunal designates the detainee as an 'enemy combatant' or 'no longer an enemy combatant,'" said Garber.

ARBs are also comprised of a panel of three officers, one of whom is an intelligence officer, which annually reviews the status of enemy combatants. The ARB process balances the risk posed by enemy combatants and the U.S. government's desire to not hold these individuals any longer than needed.

This second review process looks at the status of detainees under the following criteria: the threat the detainee may pose towards the U.S. and the detainee's intelligence value.

ARBs conclude with a recommendation to the DCO to either release, transfer or continue to detain the enemy combatant in U.S. custody. These decisions can be complicated, with many factors being weighed. The rigor of the ARB process helps to mitigate the risk that a detainee will be transferred or released and then return to the battlefield.

While OARDEC is not part of JTF Guantanamo, both organizations are necessary to ensure that detention is performed properly. JTF ensures detention is safe and humane, while OARDEC ensures that proper recommendations are made to keep the right individuals detained.

"Technically we're not part of JTF," said Garber. "We are integrated into the mission here and we work closely with the staff, and rely on the support they give us."

Given the amount of weight their recommendations carry, each member of the team understands the importance of performing their job with precision.

"The OARDEC processes play a pivotal role in determining if detainees will be transferred out of U.S. custody," said Garber. "Therefore, this entire organization takes this responsibility very seriously. I am proud of the dedication and professionalism demonstrated everyday by the OARDEC team."