U.S. military forces are training at least 500 Bolivian soldiers for anti-drug operations, marking the beginning of the military's increased role in combating the cocaine trade.

Fernando Kieffer, president of Bolivia's Chamber of Deputies, said at least 10 U.S. trainers are in Santa Cruz to train two light infantry battalions. They are the first of at least 50 U.S. trainers expected to work in Bolivia under an agreement reached between the two countries last May.However, the military will enter anti-drug operations "only when President Jaime Paz Zamora gives the order," Kieffer said.

Bolivia, an impoverished country of about 7 million, provides about a third of the cocaine consumed in the United States and other foreign markets.