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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 129-97
March 21, 1997

DOD DEPLOYS ENABLING FORCE

The Department of Defense has directed the U.S. European Command to deploy enabling forces, consisting of several hundred personnel, as part of contingency planning for a possible future evacuation from Zaire. This deployment represents an enhancement to planning for contingency measures to ensure the security of U.S. citizens in Zaire if an evacuation should become necessary. This deployment does not represent a U.S. commitment to any particular course of action.

This deployment includes command and support elements for a forward joint task force and other enabling elements. The units involved are deploying to locations in several West African countries including Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, and Libreville, Republic of Gabon. A few task force members may visit Zaire if that becomes necessary as part of the planning process.

Enabling forces come from elements of the U.S. European Command, primarily from the Southern European Task Force based in Vicenza, Italy. Some support elements are from U.S. based units. The Joint Task Force is commanded by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Edwin P. Smith, Commander Southern European Task Force.

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