March 16, 1988

In light of the significant cross-border incursion by Sandinista armed forces into Honduras from Nicaragua, and at the request of the Government of Honduras, the President has ordered the immediate deployment of an infantry brigade task force consisting of two battalions of the 82d Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, two battalions from the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California, plus supporting units to Palmerola Air Force Base in Honduras for an emergency deployment readiness exercise.

In addition to its value as a test of the proficiency of our military units, this exercise is a measured response designed to show our staunch support to the democratic Government of Honduras at a time when its territorial integrity is being violated by the Cuban- and Soviet-supported Sandinista army. This exercise is also intended as a signal to the governments and peoples of Central America of the seriousness with which the United States Government views the current situation in the region. The duration of this exercise has not been decided. The brigade task force will not be deployed to any area of ongoing hostilities.

Note: Marlin Fitzwater read the statement to reporters at 10:16 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.