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DoD Names Heads of Vieques Replacement Search Group

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2001 – Retired Navy Adm. Leighton W. Smith and retired Marine Corps Gen. Charles Wilhelm have been named co-chairmen of a group charged to find a training site to replace the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley announced the appointments July 19 at a Pentagon press briefing. Smith and Wilhelm were tapped by the Center for Naval Analysis to head the study group, he said. Other members haven't been named yet, but the group is expected to include analysts and other retired senior military officers, he noted.

Quigley said the Smith-Wilhelm group's goal is to find one or more places to provide Atlantic Fleet naval forces with good quality training in air-to-ground and amphibious operations and naval surface fire support. The Navy is scheduled to end operations at Vieques in May 2003.

The new group's task is different from that of an earlier team led by Gen. Peter Pace and Adm. William Fallon. That group's charter was to find an alternative to Vieques, Quigley said, but it concluded no perfect match currently exists.

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