Algeria: March 13, 2004

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Military officials have said that there are no US troops in Algeria at present but Deputy Commander of the US European Command General Charles Wald gave few details of the extent of America's cooperation with Algeria, other than saying "we have every intention in the world to help them where we can." He characterized the assistance as not always actual troop deployments but often simply information sharing. Wald had just returned from a seven-day, 11-nation tour of Africa. Wald forecasts increased military cooperation in the future. On March 22, Algeria's defense chief and others from North Africa and the Sahel region will visit the European Command in Stuttgart, Germany for talks. 

It is claimed that Wald's recent visit was primarily aimed at discussing plans to build a US monitoring base in the province of Tamenrast (2,000 kilometers south of Algiers). This post would be for satellite monitoring and communications analysis. If established, it would be placed under the direct command of the Algerian army and won't have a permanent US staff. 

The US embassy in Algiers quickly denied having any military bases in Algeria but asserted that they were actively working with the north African country to fight terrorism. General Wald has pointed out that the two 200 man Special Operations teams engaged in counter-terrorism training in Mali and Mauritania have already enjoyed a "huge payback." The training missions in Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad are part of a State Department-funded program called The Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI). - Adam Geibel

 

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