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Military News Briefs for the Week of April 6, 2001

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2001 – (This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service news stories for the week ending April 6, 2001.)

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DIPLOMATS' MISSION: 'BRING THE PEOPLE HOME,' BUSH SAYS

"My mission is to bring the people home," President Bush said April 5, adding the United States "is working all diplomatic channels" to expedite the return of the 24 member Navy aircrew being detained on the Chinese island of Hainan.

In remarks at the American Society of Newspaper Editors convention here, Bush said he regretted the apparent death of the missing Chinese fighter pilot whose plane collided March 31 with a U.S. Navy EP-3 aircraft over the South China Sea. After the collision, the Navy plane and crew made an emergency landing on Hainan and have been detained since.

A State Department delegation met with the crew April 3 for 40 minutes and determined no one appeared injured or mistreated. Secretary of State Colin Powell, reporting a second meeting April 6, said delegation visitors again said the EP-3 crew "looked good" and exhibited good morale. Another meeting is slated April 7.

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NAVY AIRCRAFT NOT A 'SPY PLANE,' DOD SAYS

The Navy EP-3 aircraft and its 24-member crew now held by the Chinese were conducting routine reconnaissance, not spying, DoD spokesperson Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said April 3.

"This was overt, routine surveillance and reconnaissance, which is carried out around the world on a pretty regular basis by a variety of nations, the United States among them," Quigley said at a Pentagon press conference.

Reconnaissance missions are carried out in international airspace under international rules, he said, adding that "the terms 'spy,' and 'spy plane,' and '24 spies on board,' and stuff like that just doesn't reflect the actuality" of the EP-3's mission.

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DESPITE PROGRESS, NORTH KOREA POSES MAJOR THREAT

It's an "exciting" time to be on the Korean Peninsula, Army Gen. Thomas A. Schwartz recently told members of Congress. "Who would have predicted the amount of dialogue, the cultural exchanges -- all the things that are happening?"

The four-star commander of U.N. Command/Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea highlighted the warming relations since South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korea's Kim Chong-il met last June. Nonetheless, he warned, North Korea's million active duty soldiers, 1,700 aircraft, 800-ship navy and 6 million reservists remain a major threat to regional stability.

"The key over there right now is our presence," Schwartz said of the 37,000 U.S. troops under his command. When the North looks South and sees 37,000 Americans and 750,000 South Koreans, he said, they know one thing for sure: "They're not going to do anything."

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SPACE 'INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT,' SPACECOM CHIEF SAYS

"Most anyone involved in military operations ... would tell you space is becoming increasingly important," Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, U.S. Space Command commander in chief, said in a March 28 interview.

Satellite imagery, missile warning and targeting information that space-based systems provide have proven their military worth to U.S. defense planners throughout the past decade, he said. That data, for instance, contributed to victory during Operation Desert Storm and the 1999 Kosovo air campaign, he noted.

"Look back to how we leveraged our space assets in Desert Storm, compare that to Kosovo -- or how we can leverage them even today as we have made advancements since Kosovo  - and I think it is obvious how important and how much we rely on capabilities that are resident in our information that moves through space," he said.

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PARTIAL GED TEST WORK WON'T COMPUTE IN JANUARY

DoD education officials are warning participants in the GED high-school equivalency program to pass all five of the current GED tests by December or they'll have to start all over in January.

The GED Testing Service's new test battery, coming in January 2002, will not recognize scores from any earlier GED sets, the officials said. Examinees need pass only those tests in subject areas they previously failed or have not attempted.

For more information, contact your installation education office.

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