Europe to Send More Troops to Iraq
Europe to send more troops to Iraq (Reuters)
U.S. appeals to European nations to boost NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a success, with the alliance announcing a small expansion of its fledgling military training facility in Baghdad. NATO said after a meeting of its foreign ministers on Thursday that it could not yet set up a larger officer training academy in Iraq, and also said it was still unable to launch a long-awaited expansion of its Afghanistan peacekeeping mission.
Lingering transatlantic tensions over the Iraq war emerged as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell attacked some European nations for damaging NATO’s credibility by not allowing officers which they have seconded to the alliance to work in Iraq.
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer hailed pledges by countries including Poland, Hungary, Norway and the Netherlands to send more staff to an existing training mission within Baghdad’s international Green Zone. “The number of personnel will go from 60 to 300, including trainers and support staff,” de Hoop Scheffer told reporters. “I am a very happy man as secretary-general.”
NATO sources said the new contributions would take the total of trainers in Iraq to almost 100, with the rest as support staff, and said they should start as soon as possible. The 26-member alliance also aims to set up a military academy on the outskirts of Baghdad with more trainers, but de Hoop Scheffer said that would not be ready before early 2005.
Well, it’s a start, anyway.