US, EAST AFRICAN TROOPS TO STAGE MILITARY EXERCISE IN KENYA
Fri Aug 4, 11:18 AM ET
NAIROBI (AFP) - Troops from the United States and three east African nations will stage a joint military and crisis-response
exercise this month, the first such operation in six years, officials said.
"Exercise Natural Fire 2006"
will bring together about 1,000 US, Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandan soldiers
in a 10-day simulated disaster scenario in Kenya's
central Rift Valley beginning on August 8, they said.
US-based troops along with
some stationed at Washington's Djibouti-based Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa will take part in the program at Lake Baringo,
about 230 kilometers (145 miles) northwest of Nairobi, officials said.
The task force said in a
statement the exercise with the armies of the three-nation East African Community (EAC) would focus on military and humanitarian
training, including medical, veterinary and engineering projects.
"The objective of Natural
Fire is to enhance crisis response effectiveness through increased inter-operability between each of the EAC nations and the
United States," its commander, Rear Admiral
Richard Hunt, said.
"It serves to underpin our
cooperative investment in the long-term stability of the region," he said.
The statement did not elaborate
on the nature of the simulated disaster.
East Africa has been the
scene of three major terrorist attacks, all claimed by Osama bin
Laden's Al-Qaeda network, over the past eight years, including the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
On November 28, 2002, terrorism
returned to Kenya with an attack on an Israeli-owned resort hotel near
the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa
and a failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger plane there the same day.
Recent developments in neighboring
Somalia, where Islamists accused of links to Al-Qaeda have seized Mogadishu and are expanding control in the south of the lawless nation,
have fuelled fears of potential new attacks in the region.