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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 085-99
March 04, 1999

DOD EXPANDS DISASTER SUPPORT FOR HURRICANE-STRICKEN COUNTRIES

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen announced today New Horizons 99, an expanded U.S. Southern Command exercise providing additional disaster assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The New Horizons 99 exercises annual combined/joint-training event has been expanded to include more than 20,000 service members from the Active, National Guard, and Reserve forces. The exercises will operate through September 1999 in the four Central American nations devastated by Hurricane Mitch and in the Dominican Republic, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Georges.

"The U.S. responded quickly and efficiently to help Central American nations deal with the devastation of Hurricane Mitch, " said Cohen. "Reserve forces played a key role in this humanitarian mission. They are an integral part of a Total Force solution to help our Latin American neighbors get back on their feet."

New Horizons 99 is being conducted with the goal of helping our neighbors progress on their road to recovery. The majority of these exercises will be performed by National Guard and Reserve forces from local communities across the nation.

The U.S. Servicemen and women are coming from units in more than 45 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and the Republic of Panama.

Projects planned include construction of medical clinics and schools, drilling water wells, civil engineer support, and numerous medical readiness exercises to provide general medical care to Central American and Dominican Republic citizens.

The estimated cost for the New Horizons 99 expanded program is $70 million. Previously planned exercises in Honduras and Guatemala saw between about 4,000 troops participating. New Horizons 99 will be several times larger in the number of service members and supporting organizations, scope of exercise projects and funding support.

"Since the early 1980s, tens of thousands of U.S.Reserve and National Guard personnel have trained and worked side-by-side with our neighbors in Latin America," said Charles L. Cragin, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. "New Horizons 99 is part of our nation's ongoing citizen-to-citizen commitment to this region. It represents an outstanding opportunity for our Reserve forces to receive excellent real-world training, and at the same time, help people who have a compelling need."

U.S. service members and their units are coming from:

Alabama Kansas Nevada North Carolina
Arkansas Kentucky New Hampshire South Carolina
Arizona Louisiana New Jersey South Dakota
California Maryland New York Tennessee
Connecticut Massachusetts North Dakota Texas
Delaware Michigan Ohio Utah
District of Columbia Minnesota Oklahoma Virginia
Florida Missouri Oregon Washington
Georgia Mississippi Pennsylvania West Virginia
Illinois Montana Panama Wisconsin
Indiana Nebraska Puerto Rico Wyoming
Iowa

For more information and updates, please refer to the DOD website at http://www.defenselink.mil.