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Pentagon Confirms Small Contingent of US Troops Now in Liberia - 2003-08-06

The Pentagon has confirmed a small contingent of six to 10 U.S. military personnel has arrived in Liberia to coordinate support for West African peacekeepers now taking up positions in the war-torn country.

A Pentagon spokesman says the small U.S. military liaison contingent could eventually grow in size to as many as 20 personnel.

But beyond that, other defense officials indicate no additional U.S. forces are likely to go into Liberia, leaving the main peacekeeping duties to troops from the West African regional group ECOWAS. The small U.S. liaison contingent will coordinate the delivery of logistic support to the West African peacekeepers.

In addition to the liaison team, defense officials note some 60 members of a Marine anti-terrorist security force are already in the country to augment the small guard unit at the U.S. embassy compound. A small military assessment team sent in last month to examine both humanitarian and security conditions has already left the country.

It is not clear whether members of the American liaison unit flew in from the U.S. amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, now off the coast of Liberia. The Iwo Jima is the lead vessel of a three-ship amphibious ready group carrying 2,300 Marines.