Cuba put US on notice with massive war games
Cuba's armed forces are gearing up for their biggest military exercises in almost 20 years, with hundreds of thousands of troops and millions of civilians expected to take part, officials said in Havana.
General Leonardo Andollo told reporters on Sunday that MiG-29 jets, anti-aircraft batteries were to be deployed during the weeklong exercises meant to be a warning to Washington that Cuba would vigorously defend itself against US aggression.
The mass war games start Monday and are due to run through to December 19.
"The determination of the US administration to destroy the (Cuban) revolution however they can, including militarily, determines the necessity of conducting these exercises," Andollo, the deputy chief of Cuba's Armed Revolutionary Forces (FAR), said.
His comments come days after President Fidel Castro's brother, Raul, warned Washington should closely observe Cuba's military prowess and civil defenses during the manoeuvres. Raul Castro is the head of the Caribbean island's armed forces.
Operation "Bastion 2004" will involve about 100,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel as well as some 400,000 reservists.
Air force MiG-29s, anti-aircraft units and elite troops will also support the operation, billed as Cuba's biggest military exercises since 1986.
Officials said the exercises would also involve several million civilians who will participate in two days of civil defense exercises, including a simulated aerial assault.
Raul Castro said last week the exercises had been planned in part so Washington "does not commit the errors it committed in Vietnam and that it is now committing in Iraq.
"So that they (Washington) do not underestimate our people, who are united and more powerful than those in Iraq," he added.