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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 294-97
December 18, 1997

Deputy Secretary Hamre to Visit U.S. Troops in Haiti and Cuba

Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre will mark the holiday season with visits to military personnel assigned to U.S. Southern Command locations in Haiti and Cuba, Dec. 23 and 24, 1997.

On the afternoon of Dec. 23, Dr. Hamre will meet with members of the U.S. Support Group Haiti, who are supporting Operation New Horizons. Following an overnight stay, he will travel to Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba the next morning. During the visits, Dr. Hamre will express holiday wishes and personally convey his appreciation and that of Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen for the contributions and sacrifices of America's men and women in uniform.

In Haiti, Dr. Hamre will visit with personnel from Camps Fairwinds and Kinzer, who have been involved in a multitude of civil-military projects. Since March of 1996, the U.S. Support Group, working with deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, has completed more than 550 humanitarian assistance "Health Calls" treating more than 45,000 Haitians and constructed, rebuilt and refurbished over 40 schools and orphanages. U.S. military personnel in Haiti also have planned and drilled 20 water wells which provide a clean water source to thousands of Haitians, and have built roads and bridges.

At Guantanamo, Dr. Hamre will meet with about 1,500 military personnel who are assigned to the U.S. military installation in Cuba. During the visit, Hamre will also tour the fenceline of the buffer zone separating U.S. and Cuban territory. The U.S. maintains an indefinite lease on the naval base located on the southeastern coastline of the island.

While Dr. Hamre is visiting the nearly 2,000 Americans assigned to the two Caribbean islands, Secretary Cohen will visit U.S. forces in Bosnia, Macedonia and Italy.

There are more than 230,000 U.S. forces serving abroad this December 1997. Dr. Hamre will return to Washington on Wednesday, December 24.

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