An Enhanced European Role in Iraq? Page: 4 of 15
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An Enhanced European Role in Iraq?
The United States now has approximately 130,000 troops in Iraq and another
30,000 support troops in Kuwait, a force that some senior U.S. military officials
believe stretches the country's combat capabilities, especially in the event of a major
crisis in Korea or elsewhere. The Bush Administration wishes NATO countries to
send forces to Iraq to reduce the demands on U.S. forces, and to spread the costs of
stabilization and reconstruction. Key allies acknowledge the possibility of a NATO
role, but first wish to see a new U.N. mandate and greater sharing of decision-making
with both the U.N. and the allies. Some other allies appear to reject involvement in
a U.S.-led force, as a NATO force would be, and prefer a force with a substantial
In a broader context, unresolved issues from earlier disputes among the allies
also intrude in the debate over possible NATO involvement. These issues include
the causes of the war in Iraq, the role of the U.N. in NATO out-of-area operations,
the military capabilities of the allies, and the effects of Iraq's evolution on the Middle
East as a whole. In addition, vestiges of a dispute over allied assistance to Turkey in
February 2003 before the war with Iraq remain a cause for friction between the
United States and several allies.
A Role for European Forces?
This section will first briefly review the debate in NATO over the last two years
about allied missions outside Europe. It will then discuss several related issues,
primarily those generated by allied disagreement over the reasons for war with Iraq,
that affect any possible decision by European governments to contribute forces to
stabilize Iraq. There follows a discussion of the evolution of the Administration's
position on its objectives for post-war Iraq and the necessary force levels to achieve
those objectives. The section closes with an examination of how many European
forces might be available for Iraq, and the relation of force levels to costs.
The NATO Debate over 'Out-of-Area' Operations
NATO members agreed in principle in 2002 that allied forces might be sent
beyond Europe to combat threats to member states' security. In May 2002, the allies
agreed that "to carry out the full range of its missions, NATO must be able to field
forces that can move quickly to wherever they are needed, sustain operations over
distance and time, and achieve their objectives." Several months earlier, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when asked what NATO's area of operations should be,
responded, "The only way to deal with the terrorist network that's global is to go
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An Enhanced European Role in Iraq?, report, October 9, 2003; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc805485/m1/4/: accessed December 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.