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Friday, July 14, 2000



IN THE MILITARY

Korea talks may
have sparked more
anti-U.S. feelings,
Adm. Blair says

By Gregg K. Kakesako
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

Last month's summit talks between North and South Korea may have rekindled anti-American sentiments, according to Adm. Dennis Blair, commander of U.S. Forces in the Pacific.

Blair, who is traveling in China with Defense Secretary William Cohen, said that a U.S. officer was recently killed outside a popular shopping area in Seoul and a demonstration near Osan was ignited by debate over a target range located near some villages.

Blair told reporters that the military in South Korea as yet hasn't "buttoned up the bases," but has only told its people there to watch out for each other.

Blair said that South Korean President Dae-jung Kim still supports U.S. presence on the peninsula, even with reunification.

More than 37,000 U.S. service members are stationed in South Korea.

Tapa

Last year 56,000 South Koreans and 20,000 U.S. service members, including many stationed in Hawaii, participated in Ulchi Focus Lens, one of the largest U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

However, because of the continuing successful talks between North and South Korea, which was culminated with a summit June 13-15, Ulchi Focus Lens may be scaled back.

The military exercise centers around defending against a North Korean invasion. The computer-generated war game is generally held in August.

Similar changes took place in the past when there were hopes of cooperation between the two countries. One of the Pacific area's largest military exercise -- Team Spirit -- was canceled in 1993 when relations seemed to improve.

Team Spirit until then had been held annually since 1976 and involved military personnel from Hawaii.

Tapa

The Navy is deep-sixing its hard foam-core mattresses -- which it has used in its fleet for the past three decades -- for new ones that feature pocketed-coil inner springs.

The new mattresses will be phased in over the next three years. They are expected to last seven years, two to four years longer than the current versions.

Current plans call for outfitting the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier battle group and the USS Nassau amphibious ready group before they deploy in November.

Tapa

Forty-seven new military barracks -- nine more than the Pentagon requested -- are included in the $8.8 billion military construction bill that cleared Congress last month.

Included in that bill are barracks at Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base, Pearl Harbor Naval Station and Schofield Barracks.

The construction bill provides for 2,132 new or renovated family-housing units. It sets aside $874 million for these projects and another $2.7 million for maintenance.

In Hawaii, 182 units will be affected at Pearl Harbor and 72 at Schofield Barracks.



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