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Report Says U.S. Combat-Trained Rwanda Military

August 16, 1997| From the Washington Post

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — U.S. involvement with Rwanda's military has been far more extensive than previously disclosed, an internal Defense Department chronology shows.

U.S. training in the war-torn Central African nation has included psychological operations and tactical special forces exercises that occurred a few weeks before the start of last fall's Rwandan-led insurgency in neighboring Congo, formerly Zaire, according to the eight-page draft document obtained by the Washington Post.

The ongoing training in Rwanda has occurred over the past three years and has involved hundreds of Rwandan participants.

Their training, most often by U.S. military personnel in battle uniform, included combat, de-mining, military management, disaster relief, soldier team development, and military and civilian justice, according to the Defense chronology, which is being prepared--but not yet released--in response to congressional questions about the U.S. military role in Rwanda.

U.S. officials have offered various descriptions of the nature of this training, sometimes calling it classroom-style and suggesting that it is intended to professionalize the Rwandan military and inculcate it with respect for human rights.

But the chronology indicates that the training was extensive and had combat aspects. It also shows that there has been a near-continuous presence of U.S. military personnel in Rwanda since early 1995.

"The program has not been as innocuous as it is being made out to be," said a policy official familiar with the document.

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