Troops From Fort Bragg Arrive For Maneuvers
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ Two U.S. Army battalions from Fort Bragg, N.C., have begun arriving in this Central American nation to participate in four months of military maneuvers with Honduran soliders, the U.S. Embassy said Wednesday.
The soldiers are among 3,000 Americans who will take part in the joint exercise ″Ahuas Tara 87″ with about 2,000 Honduran troops, it said.
An embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to say how many soldiers had arrived from Fort Bragg, but he confirmed they were from the 27th and 548th engineering battalions. He gave no details on other arriving American troops.
About 1,100 of the American will join 1,000 Hondurans in the four-month project to construct a four-mile road at Punta Raton near the Gulf of Fonseca on Honduras’ southern border, the official said.
Other joint operations will include improving airstrips at San Lorenzo, 64 miles south of Tegucigalpa, and at Jamastran, 90 miles east of the capital.
San Lorenzo is on a point of land that juts into the Gulf of Fonseca, a Pacific Ocean inlet surrounded by El Salvador on the west, Honduras to the north and northwest and Nicaragua on the southeast.
The Jamastran airstrip is some 30 miles north of the border with Nicaragua. About 700 Honduran soldiers were flown to the site in American helicopters Dec. 8 to reinforce the border after Sandinista troops crossed over in pursuit of U.S.-backed Contra rebels who maintain camps along the border in southern Honduras.
Meanwhile, the first of about 4,500 U.S. national guardmen from eight states and Puerto Rico are scheduled to start arriving next week for a separate four-month exercise. The guardsmen will come from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The guard exercises will be Jan. 10-May 10 in northern Yoro province, with the guardsmen to be rotated in and out of Honduras every 17 days.
The Ahuas Tara 87 exercises are to end in late April with 12 days of field maneuvers intended to ″familiarize troops with new engineering equipment,″ and provide training under tropical conditions, according to a brief statement released Monday by the Honduran military.
Ahaus Tara, the name given the maneuvers by the U.S. Embasy, means ″Big Pine″ in the Misquito Indian dialect and is the name of previous joint maneuvers. However, the Honduran military is calling the maneuvers ″Gen. Vicente Tosta″ after one of the nation’s turn-of-the-century military heroes.
Both the Army and the national guard exercises are under the command of the Bravo Task Force that includes about 1,000 U.S. troops stationed at Palmarola air base, 30 miles northwest of the capital.
More than 15,000 U.S. troops have taken part in nearly continueous joint maneuver with the Honduran military since June 1982. The maneuvers are carried out under a 1954 mutual assistance pact.