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Jun. 1, 2013, 5:11 PM

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Produced by Daniel Goodman

Original Video and Photography by Robert Johnson

While the world fights over the fate of 166 detainees held at , around 5,500 U.S. troops at the base are just doing their job.

It's not an easy tour of duty, despite the idyllic conditions found at the southern tip of Cuba.

Troops feel isolated, with no civilian cell phone towers and barely adequate bandwidth for video chat. They face severe restrictions on social media and are prohibited from talking about much of their work. It doesn't help that their work is so little understood back home.

They work long hours, under intense and sometimes dangerous conditions, where one misstep can cause an international controversy.

The military offers recreation, entertainment and a lot of physical training to keep morale high. It can only do so much.

For a closer look at troop life at GTMO, check out our exclusive video (above) and photos.

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It's a 90-minute flight from Florida to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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This airstrip is where troops will land at the base, which America has operated for 110 years.

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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Back then, this stronghold was built to repel invasions from the sea.

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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This spot has held strategic value for over 400 years, starting when Columbus spent the night here on his second trip to the New World.

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But this is the mission for many troops here now — guarding and servicing the needs of Guantanamo detainees.

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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These monuments each represent a unit crest or symbol. What it means to him, one soldier says: "It's like we served here, we moved on — you can, too."

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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What that soldier meant was that many troops find Guantanamo a very difficult place to serve even with the perks.

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The military does its best to offer entertainment to troops and their families, like this main outdoor theater called the Lyceum.

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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With sailboats available for rent to troops for sightseeing and scuba diving.

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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Recruits will leave Guantanamo either a 'chunk' ...

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A monk ...

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A hunk ...

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Or a drunk. This bar is just one place to buy deeply-discounted spirits and beer on Guantanamo.

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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Accommodations can be sparse.

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But to troops, a pretty view doesn't make up for having to wear protective suits to keep from getting 'splashed' by detainees with cups full of feces and urine.

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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Some troops participate in grueling daily Coast Guard patrol duty, which runs security along the perimeter of the island slamming through 4-foot swells.

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They face the constant tension and pressure of Operational Security, or OPSEC.

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They do have reminders that their service is appreciated, like this letter from a schoolgirl.

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And they do have some Starbucks coffee.

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But because GTMO is such an isolated, remote place focused on detention ...

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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That Starbucks coffee, like everything else to support life and boost spirits, must be imported. Well, except for the iguanas ...

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The banana rats ...

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A bit of electricity ...

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And fresh water, which is pulled from the sea and desalinated here ...

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Before it is piped across base.

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Everything else must be brought in on the barge. If something goes missing, the running joke is that it "fell off the barge."

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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That everything must be imported is a constant reminder to troops of just how isolated they are.

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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They count down the days to their final ferry ride off the base ...

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After which they'll catch the final plane ...

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And put Guantanamo behind them forever.

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That's what life is like for many troops ...

Robert Johnson/Business Insider

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