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Resumption of U.S. Military Aid Includes Spare Parts for Helicopters

February 22, 1989

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ The United States will send $20 million worth of military equipment in the first U.S. military aid to Argentina since the 1982 Falklands conflict, the Ministry of Defense said Tuesday.

Ministry spokesman Horacio Altamirano said the equipment included spare parts for about 20 helicopters and 200 armored personnel carriers.

The deal was signed Tuesday by Gen. Fred Woerner, chief of the U.S. Southern Strategic Command, and Argentina’s army chief Gen. Francisco Gassino, Altamirano said.

The U.S. Embassy did not return phone calls for comment.

The aid is the first since Argentina and Britain clashed in 1982 over the South Atlantic islands that Britain owns and calls the Falklands, and Argentina claims and calls the Malvinas. The United States supported Britain in the conflict.

Argentina’s military budget has been cut in half to about 2 percent of the gross domestic product since civilian President Raul Alfonsin took office in December 1983, ending a military regime that had been in power for nearly eight years.

Officers have complained about not having enough money to draft and train recruits, fly jets or buy the parts needed to keep foreign-made equipment running, including M-113 armored personnel carriers and Bell helicopters.

The lack of equipment and the low military budget in general was one of the reasons cited by army rebels for an insurrection last December.

Defense Minister Jose Horacio Jaunarena personally requested U.S. military assistance on a trip to Washington last October during which he met with then- Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci.

U.S. military assistance to Argentina was sharply restricted beginning in the late 1970s because of human rights violations committed by the military regime trying to eradicate subversion.

The juntas bought the guns, planes and ships they wanted from European and Middle East suppliers.

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