Multinational coalition to enter Haiti

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON Deputy Defense Secretary John M. Deutch said Wednesday that American troops will be dispatched to Haiti either to expel the country's military junta or to help restore order if the generals bow to international pressure and depart.

"The multinational force is going to Haiti," he said, referring to the predominantly American fighting coalition about to be trained in Puerto Rico.

Deutch told reporters some 10,000 U.S. troops would be in a coalition force supplemented by several hundred from other hemisphere countries to be trained in Puerto Rico. He said the point of such a large force was to minimize American and Haitian casualties. He offered no timetable for moving against Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras.

Clinton administration officials have warned Cedras and his cohorts for months that they risk an invasion if they do not quit and permit restoration of elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was ousted three years ago. Deutch's statement was the toughest so far.

Denying reports the Pentagon was reluctant to act, Deutch said there was no policy disagreement with the State Department, usually depicted in the media as more prone to use the force authorized by the U.N. Security Council in July.

Even so, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said the use of force would be "a last resort." In a joint news conference, he said "we want to make sure we use other avenues."

Deutch and Talbott headed a U.S. delegation that went to Kingston, Jamaica, on Tuesday and won unanimous support of the 13-nation Caribbean Community and Common Market for the U.N. resolution. They then went to the Dominican Republic to check on infiltration of supplies to Haiti in defiance of a U.N. embargo.

Talbott said they detected during a helicopter ride a large, makeshift pipeline, apparently to carry oil, as well as several large barrels of oil being carried across the border to Haiti. Talbott said the Dominican government had promised to enforce the embargo with troops.

Administration officials are hopeful three nations, the Bahamas, Antigua and Guyana, which did not commit troops on Tuesday will do so eventually. They would supplement the troops that Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Belize agreed to provide.

Deutch dismissed any suggestion the Caribbean countries were making only a symbolic contribution. He said they would be part of the military coalition and also help in stabilizing the country.

However, other officials said that if there is an invasion, only Americans would be in the initial wave. Deutch emphasized they would be under the command of American officers.

"The multinational force is going to Haiti," he said. "The issue is the circumstances under which that force enters Haiti. It could be under a permissive circumstance, at the request of Haiti's legitimate government, with the authority of the United Nations, or it can be under contested circumstances if the de facto, the illegal government does not come to its senses and realize the world is determined to see a change in the government ..."

Some 30 U.S. Army specialists will train the Caribbean soldiers, a senior Pentagon official said. The troops will be broken down into six light infantry platoons and an 80-man headquarters unit that will participate in several weeks of training at the U.S. base Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico.

It is expected to take up to two weeks to get the Caribbean unit organized before the training can begin, the official said.

The infantry units' training will focus on such skills as crowd control, first aid, manning road blocks, communications, weapons use and logistical issues, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Caribbean soldiers will supply their own small arms, but the United States will supply uniforms, helmets, flak jackets and small vehicles, the official said.

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