U.S. Moving Troops to Cote d'Ivoire
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 24, 2002 Around 200 U.S. troops are deploying to the West African country of Cote d'Ivoire in response to a request by the U.S. ambassador there.
Ambassador Arlene Render asked for the troops after disturbances following a failed coup attempt placed some U.S. citizens in danger. The troops are under command of U.S. European Command.
News reports said the fiercest fighting was around the city of Bouake. More than 200 children, including more than 100 Americans, are trapped in a Christian school near the fighting. Defense Department spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Don Sewell said the troops will monitor the situation and will be available to assist in ensuring the safety of American citizens in Cote d'Ivoire, as required.
European Command officials said most of the U.S. forces are deploying from Germany, but that those forces will meet up with troops already in the area. U.S. troops are involved in training missions throughout the region. European Command officials said that some of the troops are special operations forces.
State Department officials said roughly 2,000 Americans are in the country. They would not characterize the fighting in the country, but said it was enough for the ambassador to become concerned. News reports indicate that French forces already in the country are working to restore order in Bouake.
"Cote d'Ivoire" is French for Ivory Coast, the country's former name.