WASHINGTON (Sep. 4)
Algerian President Houari Boumedienne’s allegation in a Paris newspaper that American military forces are training in a California desert in preparation for intervention in the Middle East was dismissed today in U.S. official quarters as a “confused misinterpretation of the facts.”
Boumedienne, according to a story in Le Monde, said that reports in the American press about military maneuvers in California in conditions similar to those in the Middle East were political and psychological preparations for such an intervention. He told Le Monde that “I do not rule out the possibility of (U.S.) military intervention under the pretext of protecting a vital element” in the economy of the West, namely, oil. The statement was reported to have been made in an interview with the Algerian President at the current meeting in Algiers of more than 70 non-aligned countries.
Pentagon sources said that Boumedienne’s assertions probably were wrongly based on the “routine exercise” of a regiment of U.S. Marine regulars and another of Marine reserves who worked out together a month ago at Twenty Nine Palms in California where the Marines have a base.
“It was nothing unusual,” a Pentagon spokesman said. He pointed out that it was one of four or five exercises held each year by Marines in both cold and tropical weather and in deserts and other kinds of conditions as part of the continuing training of U.S. military forces. The exercise involving about 8000 men was well publicized in the media, he noted. “We are not preparing for war anywhere,” he said.