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"Bright Star" keeps low profile

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  • Josh Pollack
    USA Today October 1, 2001 War-Games Troops May Join Real Fight By Thor Valdmanis, USA Today www.usatoday.com CAIRO — A long-scheduled military exercise that
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2001
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      USA Today
      October 1, 2001
      War-Games Troops May Join Real Fight
      By Thor Valdmanis, USA Today

      www.usatoday.com

      CAIRO � A long-scheduled military exercise that is bringing 23,000 U.S.
      troops to Egypt this month has taken on new dimensions as the United States
      prepares its real-life war on terrorism. More than 3,000 U.S. troops are
      already here for operation Bright Star, an exercise that runs Oct. 8 through
      Nov. 1 and will involve 70,000 soldiers from 10 nations. The other 20,000
      U.S. troops are expected in coming days. And while the Pentagon says the
      number of U.S. troops taking part has not changed because the military is
      preparing to go after suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, who's
      thought to be hiding in Afghanistan, interviews with senior U.S. officers
      here indicate that many troops could go directly from Egypt to any battle
      zone.

      Some U.S. soldiers, who would not talk on-the-record, said Sunday that they
      were given orders to come to the long-planned war games just a day or two
      before departure. Others said they were given vague orders about what they
      would be doing here � in one case, to fly supply missions on transport
      planes to unknown destinations.

      The U.S. soldiers said they have been ordered to keep a low profile and wear
      civilian clothes when in public. Polls show a majority of Egyptians deplore
      the terrorist attacks but also oppose any U.S. military retaliation. The
      Egyptian government has not told its people about the Bright Star exercises.

      The U.S. troops' presence here is not hard to detect, however. Many markets,
      restaurants and large hotels this weekend were crowded with American men
      sporting crew cuts and carrying green duffel bags.

      No U.S. military or embassy officials would talk on-the-record about the
      exercises or what troops here might do in the event of U.S. military action.

      Egypt has remained calm since the attacks. But several of bin Laden's
      lieutenants are from Egypt, as were some of the terrorists.

      The other nations taking part in Bright Star with troops from the USA and
      Egypt are Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Jordan and Kuwait.

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