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October 25, 2014

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Las Vegas native takes over command of Guantanamo Bay

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Sgt. Kenneth Tucceri/Department of Defense

Rear Adm. Richard Butler hands the colors to Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad during a change-of-command ceremony at Joint Task Force Guantanomo on Thursday, July 10, 2014. Cozad, a Las Vegas native and 1981 graduate of Chaparral High School, took over command of the base in Cuba from Butler.

A 1981 graduate of Chaparral High School is the newest commander of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad took over the reins of Joint Task Force Guantanamo in a change-of-command ceremony today, the Pentagon announced in a news release.

Cozad, a Las Vegas native, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985.

In addition to being a pilot and flight instructor, Cozad has served in various capacities throughout his military career. From 2010 to 2012, he served in the White House, including a one-year stint as senior director of the White House Situation Room.

Prior to his appointment to Guantanamo, Cozad was vice deputy director of regional force management and future operations with the Joint Staff in Norfolk, Va.

At today’s ceremony, Marine Gen. John Kelly, U.S. Southern Command’s commander, praised Butler for his year as Guantanamo’s commander and talked about his confidence in Cozad.

Kelly also thanked the service members who carry out their mission at the base, ‘for your decency, for your approach to duties ... for your long-suffering dedication to a tough but critically important mission.”

The center is where, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, prisoners suspected of committing terror against the United States are detained. News reports put the latest number of such inmates at Guantanamo at 149 men from 22 countries.

Cozad graduated from Annapolis with a bachelor’s degree in oceanography/ physics. He holds a master’s degree in national resource management from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., where he graduated with distinction. He also attended the Navy’s Corporate Business Course at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

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