CAIRO Ñ Algeria has pressed the United States for the sale of combat
military systems to help fight Islamic insurgents.
Officials said Algeria has asked for lethal systems that would help
Algerian troops locate and target insurgents in all times and weather. They
said the heavy casualties inflicted on the military reflects Algeria's lack
of night-vision and all-weather equipment.
The Sawt Al Ahrar daily, published by the ruling National Liberation
Front, reported that the military has prepared an offensive against Islamic
insurgents based on the expectation that Algeria would receive "advanced
weapons from Washington within the next few days." The daily did not
describe the weapons.
The Algerian request would allow the military's helicopters, armored
vehicles and aircraft to perform night missions in the mountainous regions
of eastern Algeria. Officials said the equipment would include command,
control and communications systems as well as sensors and night-vision
The United States has acknowledged selling a range of non-lethal
military equipment to Algeria. These include ground control radars for civil
aviation, small aircraft for border security, spare parts for C-130
aircraft, radios and Humvee military vehicles.
The Bush administration has also approved the export of night-vision
goggles for the Algerian army. But officials said the goggles have not yet
In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher again reviewed
Washington's help to Algiers to fight Islamic insurgents. Boucher said the
United States plans to increase military aid to Algiers in fiscal 2003.
The aid would amount to $550,000 and focus on training Algerian soldiers
in English language kills and officer courses. Boucher said 41 Algerian
soldiers will be enrolled in the programs.
"Algeria has also on occasion asked to purchase military equipment from
the United States," Boucher said. "We evaluate those requests on a
case-by-case basis in light of U.S. interests. No exports of lethal
equipment have been approved."