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Military

Updated: 26-Apr-2004
 

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

26 April 2004

ISAF
  • Spain considering options for increasing its forces in Afghanistan

IRAQ

  • Multinational force to hand over control of two provinces to U.S. troops

GREATER MIDDLE EAST INITIATIVE

  • Reality intrudes on U.S. vision for Middle East

ISAF

  • NATO has asked Spain to increase its military presence in Afghanistan and take charge of an Afghan province. According to military sources, NATO’s aim is to create by June five PRTS, which will help consolidate the authority of the Afghan state beyond the confines of Kabul, reported Madrid’s El Pais, April 24. The Defense Ministry is drawing up plans to increase its presence in Afghanistan, the newspaper said, adding that the preferred option is to participate in the general headquarters of the Eurocorps with a maximum of 300 personnel. The sources were quoted saying, however, that Spain would have to reinforce its military presence in Afghanistan because the Eurocorps has committed itself to relieving Canada in command of ISAF. The article continued: “The Defense Ministry has prepared a range of options for the prime minister to choose depending on the degree of commitment he wants to undertake. The minimum option involves participating in the Eurocorps HQ, which will be established in Kabul for a period of six months, extendible to a year. Spain will have to send a minimum of 70 personnel, if it confines itself to filing staff posts, and a maximum of 300 if it adds a company for the protection of the HQ. But the real political decision is taking over commitments outside Kabul. Spain has not decided yet whether it will take on the responsibility for a PRT, but the sources consulted said that if it did, it would be in cooperation with another European country.” The Boston Globe writes that while the Alliance has agreed to set up and take command of five PRTs in the north and west by the end of June, it has struggled to wheedle key and costly equipment such as transport planes and helicopters out of allies. “The reluctance of the allies to offer resources for Afghanistan has dented the credibility of NATO’s first mission outside Europe or America,” the newspaper stresses. It notes, however, that on Monday U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns stressed that Afghanistan had to be the Alliance’s top priority because the stakes were high. “(Burns) said Washington wanted NATO to take on responsibility for PRTs commanded by Operation Enduring Freedom. After NATO has moved into the restive south and west to take on these teams, there could be a merger between ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom,” the article continues.

IRAQ

  • AP quotes a spokesman for the multinational force in Iraq saying Monday that U.S. troops will permanently take command of the two Iraqi provinces that have been controlled by Spanish-led forces. The U.S. soldiers will take over in Najaf and Kadisija provinces around May 27 after the expected withdrawal of some 2,000 troops from Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, a spokesman at the headquarters of the Polish-led multinational troops reportedly said. He added that Poland will be left in command of about 8,000 troops in three provinces instead of five. Against the background of the planned Spanish withdrawal, The Times claims it has learned that senior Whitehall officials have drawn up a highly complex series of options for Britain’s role to be expanded. “If the British remit is to move north, taking in hotspots such as Najaf, defense sources said one option for ministers was for Britain to take over command of the central south division, currently led by a Polish general,” the newspaper says. It adds that one suggestion is that Britain could ask NATO to allow the British-led Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) headquarters in Germany to be released to take over command from the Poles. Noting that although it is a NATO headquarters, 60 percent of the staff are British, the newspaper quotes one defense source saying: “So it could be used as a British force.”

GREATER MIDDLE EAST INITIATIVE

  • According to the Christian Science Monitor, just weeks before the Bush administration plans to roll out its Greater Middle East Initiative at a series of international summit, the plan is in trouble. Three factors—worse-than-expected violence in Iraq, the president’s surprise alignment last week with Israeli leader Sharon on West Bank settlements and other sensitive issues, and the continuing deterioration of America’s image among Arabs—have reportedly thrown the plan off and punctured enthusiasm for pursuing it. The article stresses, however, that the initiative is still expected to provide the theme for the G-8 summit the White House is hosting in June, and to figure in NATO and U.S.-EU conclaves the same months. A commentary in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, April 24, stressed meanwhile that a possible “NATO Gulf initiative” rests on resolving the Middle East conflict. Many factors determine what will happen with regard to a substantial relationship between NATO and the Arab world in general, beyond the existing discussion forums, and the states in the Gulf region in particular, said the newspaper, concluding: “Military and security policy cooperation that NATO will enter into with individual states of the region must be seen to complement the political, economic, social, and ideological modernization requirements confronting the states and societies in the Gulf region and the Middle east…. How reforms can take root and what the West, together with NATO, could do to achieve this … without intensifying the conflict—this is a question that is just beginning to be answered.”


 



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