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U.S. Military Personnel Dispatched to Liberia

Additional U.S. Military Security Personnel Dispatched to Liberia

Defense Department Report, July 21: U.S. Monitoring Liberia Situation

Forty-one additional U.S. military security personnel were sent into Liberia July 21 as the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia was caught in the cross-fire between the troops of embattled Liberian President Charles Taylor and rebel forces fighting them.

Faced with an increasingly tense situation in Monrovia, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the request of the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia John Blaney to augment the existing Marine security guards at the U.S. Embassy.

The Defense Department announced the dispatch of 41 additional military security personnel on July 20 and the anti-terrorism team arrived July 21. Team members evacuated the first group of Americans out of the country to Sierra Leone, although a full-scale evacuation has not yet been authorized.

The U.S. Embassy compound in Monrovia came under fire on the day of the team's arrival as shooting between government troops and rebel forces escalated. Mortar rounds and small arms fire posed the greatest threat to those in or around the compound.

Press reports indicate that a three-ship U.S. amphibious task force led by the USS Iwo Jima has moved from its station off the Horn of Africa into the Mediterranean Sea. There are some 2,000 Marines assigned to the task force who could assist should an evacuation be required. President Bush said July 21 that U.S. officials are monitoring the situation in Monrovia closely.

On July 7 a 35-person military humanitarian assistance support team arrived in Liberia on a fact-finding mission and it was accompanied by 15 Marines to provide extra security. The team, led by Navy Captain Roger Coldiron, included medical, logistics, water and civil engineering specialists.

The Bush administration has been evaluating the possibility of U.S. assistance for Liberia that would likely be channeled to or through the Economic Community of West African States.

President Taylor has stated publicly that he would not exit the country until a peacekeeping force -- led by the United States -- was in place.

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