Army activates part of unit at Aberdeen for Haiti duty

September 17, 1994|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Sun Staff Writer

Part of a small Army unit at Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Foreign Materiel Intelligence Battalion, has been activated for a possible invasion of Haiti, a base spokesman said yesterday.

The 17 members of the battalion were sent to Fort Drum in northern New York during the last several days to join the 10th Mountain Division, said spokesman Gary Holloway. Troops of the light infantry division left for Haiti on Wednesday aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Eleven other soldiers from the intelligence battalion are on standby at the proving ground in Harford County, Mr. Holloway said.

The members of the battalion, one of more than 50 Army agencies at the proving ground, are experts in assessing enemy weaponry and equipment.

In the last several days, Aberdeen has been activated as a central processing center for the Army Materiel Command, where troops and civilians being mobilized are given physical examinations, legal advice and other information.

The processing center could receive as many as 100 soldiers and civilians "if indeed the president gets support and we invade" Haiti, Mr. Holloway said.

Already, four civilians and one naval officer associated with the joint-service Military Traffic Management Command -- whose mission is to ensure that equipment and personnel arrive as needed for any military operation -- have been processed at Aberdeen for the Haitian operation.

Mr. Holloway said the members of the traffic command had returned to their headquarters in Northern Virginia to await deployment.

Five additional soldiers -- all support personnel -- from three Army units at Aberdeen and Fort Meade had been processed as of yesterday. They had deployed to various locations, Mr. Holloway said.

Aberdeen, a weapons-testing and research installation, processed several thousand soldiers and civilians for duty during the Persian Gulf conflict. In addition to medical exams and weapons training, the processing covered cultural subjects and language lessons.

During the mission in Somalia, the proving ground prepared a number of translators and other support personnel. It also helped prepare some of the Army's civilian water supply experts and others for the United Nations' relief effort in Rwanda.

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