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Guantanamo Bay prison to get new commander

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April 12, 2013 06:42 PM EST | AP


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A new commander has been named to lead the Guantanamo Bay prison amid a hunger strike that has dragged on for more than two months.

The Pentagon says Rear Adm. Richard W. Butler will be the next commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo after serving at the Air Warfare Division in Washington.

Butler replaces Rear Adm. John W. Smith, who will move to the National Defense University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Navy Capt. Robert Durand says the change is part of a normal rotation in which the prison commander serves for about a year.

The prison at the U.S. base in Cuba holds 166 detainees. The military says that as of Friday, 43 were on hunger strike to protest their confinement. Lawyers for the men say the figure is higher.