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Military News Briefs for the Week Ending Sept. 22, 2000

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2000 –  Prepared by the American Forces Press Service

(This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service stories for the week ending Sept. 22, 2000.)



U.S. Army spouse Nancy Johnson of Fort Benning, Ga., was the first U.S. athlete to strike gold in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Johnson scored 9.9 points on her 10th and final shot to break a first-place deadlock in the women's 10-meter air rifle finale Sept. 16. She defeated Korea's Cho-Hyun Kang, 497.7 to 497.5. She's the first American woman to medal in the event since Pat Spurgin's gold in Los Angeles in 1984.

The Sydney Games are a family affair. Her husband, Staff Sgt. Ken Johnson, is a member of the Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning and competing in Sydney in the same air-rifle event for men.

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Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told Indonesian leaders Sept. 18 that they must disband and disarm the "killer militias" on the island of Timor, warning that failure to address the problem would affect their international relations and could jeopardize continued economic assistance.

Cohen was on a nine-day, six-country mission in Asia. He met separately with top Indonesian leaders including the president and vice president. "At every meeting, I made the same points," he said. "The United States strongly supports Indonesia's historic transition to a democracy, but that transition must include a clear commitment to the rule of law and an end of violence in East and West Timor."

On Sept. 6, militias operating out of refugee camps in West Timor attacked the office of the U.N. High Commission on Refugees and murdered three aid workers including an American. The Indonesian government had guaranteed the U.N. workers' safety, but police and soldiers left the area as the militias approached.

"The United States and the entire international community have condemned this brutal attack by militia killers and have called on Indonesian authorities to take immediate action to deal with the Timor crisis," Cohen said.

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The historic meeting in June between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Chong-il carries much promise for the people of both Koreas. U.S. officials said the dialogue will inevitably mean changes for the 37,000 U.S. service members stationed in South Korea. But not yet.

The meeting in June and subsequent developments have put into motion what one senior U.S. official called a “fundamental transformation” on the Korean Peninsula. But those changes are far from assured and far from irreversible, the official said, and the ongoing process is fragile.

Many in the world are surprised at the rapid pace of the talks, and some critics say the South is rushing the process. Polls show that the vast majority of South Koreans approve of their government's approach. Demonstrations calling for an end to a U.S. presence spiked recently, but President Kim Dae-jung and his ministers went to their people and defended the U.S.-ROK security alliance, saying it's still needed.

U.S. officials said it is too early to say what U.S. forces and their composition would be if the North-South rapprochement continues. For the time being, the current levels of U.S. forces in Korea will remain unchanged.

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