The Reagan administration has renewed a controversial funding request to Congress to build a new "contingency facility for a company-sized unit with aircraft" at Palmerola air base in Honduras, according to documents that have been submitted to the House Appropriations subcommittee on military construction.
The subcommittee refused last year to provide $4.2 million for the facility, partly on grounds that it would imply too permanent a U.S. presence on the Honduran-owned base.
A hearing on the new request is scheduled today.
In the documents asking permission to direct $3.2 million for the project from unspent funds from other projects, the facility is described as housing "operations, troop quarters, dining, recreation, administration and supply functions, an aircraft maintenance hangar and an aircraft parking apron" as well as paving, fencing, lights and communications.
"There are presently no adequate facilities for U.S. military intelligence contingency deployments," the request said.
"Contingency mission personnnel are now required to deploy under field living conditions, which while acceptable for short stays, are unacceptable for indefinite deployments."
Nestor D. Sanchez, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Latin America affairs, said "indefinite deployment" does not imply any permanency.
"It is definitely not a permanent facility," he said, noting that Congress authorized the project last year but failed to appropriate funds for it.
In a letter to subcommittee chairman Rep. W.G. (Bill) Hefner (D-N.C.), the Department of Defense said the facility would "provide a secure, integrated living and working atmosphere" and added that it also would "locate U.S. military personnel away from population centers and their high terrorist-threat probabilities."
The documents refer three other times to potential terrorist threats, but an official said the request has been revised to delete all such references since being sent to the subcommittee.
"There have been no attacks on the troops exercising. That was a mistake . . . the facility is primarily for protection for the equipment but not from terrorists," the official said.
Congress appropriated $13 million for improvements at Palmerola in fiscal 1983, when major U.S. military exercises were under way. New exercises involving about 1,800 troops deployed from the United States began June 7 and are scheduled to last for about three months.