The Cost of Detention at Guantanamo Bay 

Today, the House Armed Services Committee will debate the merits of continuing to operate an expensive and unnecessary detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO). Recently, Ranking Member Adam Smith authored an oped, An Exit Strategy from Detention at Guantanamo,” laying out the reasons why the facility should be closed.

Beyond the national security reasons for closing the facility, there are persuasive cost justifications for closing the facility as well. For example, we are currently spending approximately $1.6 million per detainee each year at Guantanamo Bay, compared to $34,046 per inmate at a High Security Federal Prison. Below, you will find a more detailed breakdown of what it costs to maintain and operate GTMO, some of the historical costs associated with the facility, and, in comparison, what it costs per inmate at a High Security Federal Prison. Additionally, both the Associated Press (story) and Reuters (story) wrote extensive stories laying out the exorbitant cost of running and maintaining the facility.

As the committee debates what should be done to close the facility, Smith will propose multiple amendments designed to give the President the flexibility needs. Specifically, Smith will move to strike section 1035 of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization, which restrict the President’s ability to transfer detainees.

Additionally, the Chairman’s mark provides $61 million more than the Department of Defense had planned to spend on replacing existing temporary infrastructure to instead construct permanent facilities at Guantanamo Bay. At a time when our country is facing the negative effects of sequestration, we should be working to close this expensive and unnecessary facility rather than seeking to spend additional funds to make it permanent.

At a minimum, prior to proceeding with construction of replacement facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Members should have a full accounting of the costs required to keep Guantanamo Bay open, including detention operations and future infrastructure investments. For this reason, Congressman Rob Andrews will offer an amendment to condition funding for military construction at Guantanamo Bay on Congress receiving a report on the historical and future costs of operating and maintain Guantanamo Bay. The amendment would also reduce the amount of funding authorized for construction at Guantanamo Bay by $61 million so no permanent facilities are authorized for construction.


Annual Cost of Detention Operations at Guantanamo Bay

Budget Category


Detention Operations


Linguists at Guantanamo Bay


Operations & Maintenance, Army (OCO)


Office of Military Commissions


Office of Military Commission (NCR)


Office of Military Commission (USARSO)




Annual Cost Per Detainee (166 detainees)


Source: Department of Defense 

Annual Cost Per Inmate in High Security Federal Prison

Fiscal Year






Annual Cost Per Inmate






Source: CRS Report: The Federal Prison Population Buildup: Overview, Policy Changes, Issues, and Options. January 22, 2013.

Historical Construction Costs at Guantanamo Bay



Detention Facility PH I (408 Cells)


Detention Facility PH II (204 Cells)


Detention Facility PH III (204 Cells)


Detention Facility PH IV (192 Cells)


JTF Military Commission Complex


JTF Troop Support


JTF Interrogations/Interview


Planning and Design


Psychiatric Ward


Camp 6 Detention Facility (220 Cells)


Radio Range Security Fence


Classified Project


Expeditionary Legal Complex




Source: U.S. Army: GTMO Contract Actions Spreadsheet Analysis. January 27, 2010

FY2014 Proposed Construction Costs at Guantanamo Bay

MILCON Project

Authorized in NDAA

Cost of Temporary Facility

Seaside Galley



High Value Detainee Facility



Medical Support Facility



Communications Network Facility



Barracks (496 Person)



Barracks (352 Person)






*The Chairman’s mark authorizes an increase in scope above what the Department of Defense had planned in order to make these facilities permanent.