Multinational force in Iraq

From Academic Kids

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A Polish Army soldier patrol leader debriefs his team after completing an afternoon patrol around the perimeter of Camp Babylon, Iraq

The multinational force in Iraq invaded the country in March 2003 (see 2003 invasion of Iraq). After a quick military victory (attributed by some to "shock and awe") the Coalition -- primarily an initiative of the United States with major support from the United Kingdom -- hunkered down to a long period of occupation.

The distinction between the characterization of the foreign forces as occupiers (see "Coalition Provisional Authority") or liberators has become a matter of dispute in itself (see 2003 occupation of Iraq), as well as a matter of domestic concern within the United States. The Bush administration declared that Operation Iraqi Freedom was, as its name implies, intended to provide relief from tyranny -- and that it would promote stability in the region and pre-empt an Iraqi attack on the US.

At the time, both major US political parties gave credence to intelligence reports that Saddam (A) possessed and (B) intended to use WMD -- as he had on the Kurds. Bipartisan support quickly dwindled after the invasion started, and the opposing Democratic Party began saying that the invasion would be justified only if WMD were actually found in significant numbers in Iraq. When no more than a few old shells and inactive labs were found, US support for the invasion dropped measurably.

On June 28, 2004, the occupation nominally ended, but for those who question the legitimacy of the US-appointed interim governments the occupation continues. Indeed, the expulsion of "occupation forces" is a major stated aim of guerilla fighters. President Bush disagrees with the rationale of the insurgents:

"...what is causing violence in Iraq is the fact that Iraq is heading toward freedom." [1] (

The U.S. contributed more than seven-eighths of the participating soldiers; assistance also came from the United Kingdom and several other allies. Although their status as Coalition Provisional Authority (i.e. "Occupying Powers" under a UN resolution) changed when the new government asserted its sovereignty on June 28 (see Iraqi sovereignty), the mission of the multinational force has decreased only by small numbers.

On September 7, 2004, the official U.S. military death toll in Iraq reached 1,000 as U.S. forces struggle to put down the Iraqi insurgency, which continues sixteen months after President George W. Bush declared the end of "major combat operations" in Iraq.

Falluja has emerged as a major headquarters of insurgents using a besieged city of 300,000 people to hide from near-daily aerial precision bombing. Parts of "Sadr City," Baghdad's poorest neighborhood, have been reduced to rubble. Supporters of the insurgents portray the bombings as deliberately targeting civilian non-combatants, a charge dismissed by the Pentagon which says it takes great pains to target only guerilla forces.


List of nations

The following nations have troops serving in Iraq in some capacity and the numbers were last updated on 28th December 2004.

Over 5000 soldiers

  • United States - As of July 2004 there were 140,000 US soldiers and marines in West, North and Central Iraq; a planned reduction to 115,000 was cancelled due to losses and intense Iraqi resistance in Al Anbar province and a Shia uprising in the South of the country. An increase to 153,000 will take place in early-mid 2005. As of December 28 2004, 1,321 American military personnel from almost every branch of the US military have been killed in Iraq: More than 5,300 American military personnel have been seriously wounded in action and returned to the US. Three Department of Defense civilian personnel were also killed as well as two other US government civilians. In addition, 66 American contractors have been killed in Iraq.
  • United Kingdom - 8,361 (previous listed number: 7,900) troops in South East Iraq; also commanding a number of other coalition troops throughout South Eastern provinces. 3,500 more are stationed in Kuwait. The British forces command the Multi-National Division (South East) which consists of forces from several other countries. Prime minister Tony Blair had considered an expansion of 1,500 to 2,000 troops to replace the troops of Spain and other departing nations. However, military commanders as well as former diplomats criticizing US military tactics put this into question. The UK has lost 76 soldiers in Iraq. In addition 18 British civilian contractors have been killed in Iraq. See also: Operation Telic (operational name for UK's involvement in Iraq) for further information on the UK's contribution. The UK has a further 3,500 soldiers at bases in the Persian Gulf region.

1000 - 5000 soldiers

  • South Korea - About 3,700 ROK (Republic of Korea) troops are officially deployed in Iraq. The 2,500 men, mostly combat engineers of the Zaytun ("olive-peace") Division were deployed in late September 2004 to Irbil in the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, and combined with the 660 humanitarian troops that have been operating in southern Iraq since April 2003, South Korea has the third-largest military presence in the war-torn nation after the United States and Britain. 3 South Korean civilians have died in Iraq. There are also large numbers of Korean mercenaries, most notably from the NKTS, a private Korean security company, operating in Iraq. They are estimated at between 70 to 700 in number and most protect South Korean civilian assets as well as other coalition civilian assets.
  • Italy - Independent contingent of 3,216 troops (as of February 2005, the 'Garibaldi Brigade' is currently serving a 4 months duty, including Signal & transport soldiers, mech. infantry, engineers, helicopterists and Carabinieri) in South Central Iraq, around Nasiriyah. The Italian Army has lost 23 soldiers in Iraq, 22 in attacks by insurgents and one in a vehicle accident. In March 2004, four Italian security guards were taken hostage in Iraq. One was executed in April and the rest were let go later in the month. Later in 2004 two aid workers were taken hostage and then released unharmed several weeks later. Two Italian contractors and two reporters have been killed by insurgents in Iraq. Italy has another 84 troops stationed on bases in the Persian Gulf. Italian officials have stated that they will withdraw their forces 'as soon as possible', at the same time A-129 Mangusta attack helicopters and more Dardo tracked IFV are being sent to Iraq. In March 2005, the Italian government announced that its troops would be withdrawn by September.
  • Poland - 2,400-2,500 mechanized infantry troops in South Central Iraq; The Polish forces command the Multi-National Division (South Central) which consists of forces from several other countries. According to some sources pull-out was planned for the end of 2004, although all government officials denied validity of that claim. However, minister of defense Jerzy Szmajdzinski announced that the number of troops will be reduced to 1,700 after the Iraqi elections planned for January 31 2005 and all Polish troops could be out of Iraq by the end of 2005. Poland has lost 16 soldiers in Iraq. In addition, in June 2004, two Polish contractors were killed in Iraq. In addition two Polish journalists working for Polish television were killed. In a statement released in July 2004, 'Al Zarqawi' released a statement threatening Japan, Poland and Bulgaria over their troop deployments. He demanded of the Polish government 'Pull your troops out of Iraq or you will hear the sounds of explosions that will hit your country.' Hours later Prime Minister Marek Belka denied, and deputy Defence Minister Janusz Zemke said pulling out would be a 'terrible mistake.'
  • Ukraine - Independent contingent of 1,589 mechanized infantry troops in Kut (South Central Iraq), currently not leaving their base, but intend to stay. Ukraine lost 9 soldiers in Iraq. Early in 2004, three Ukrainian engineers were taken hostage in Iraq but were let go shortly after. The Ukrainian legislative body, the Verkhovna Rada has recently passed a motion to withdraw all troops. Seven soldiers were killed (09/01/2005) as well as one Kazakh when they were trying to destroy ammunition in Wasits province. Ukraine's outgoing president has since ordered officials to draw up plans to withdraw the country's troops home from Iraq in the first half of 2005.
  • Netherlands - Independent contingent of 1,345 troops (including marines, 3 or more Chinook helicopters, military police, a logistics team) in Samawah (Southern Iraq). On June 1st, government renewed troop stay through 2005. Netherlands has lost two soldiers in separate insurgent attacks. In addition, one Dutch civilian engineer was killed in March 2004 in an attack. The Algemeen Dagblad reported on Oct. 21, that the Netherlands would pull its troops out of Iraq in March 2005, at the end of the troop's mandate. Citing the Dutch Defense Minister, the Dutch Government had reportedly turned down an Iraqi Government request to extend the Dutch contingent's stay in-country.

100 - 1000 soldiers

  • Romania - 830 troops (half infantry, the rest includes: an intelligence team, military police, and de-miners) under Italian command (South East Iraq). In addition one Romanian contractor has been killed in Iraq in an insurgent attack. Three Romanian journalists were held captive by insurgents, but were released in May 2005
  • Australia - Independent contingent of 400 troops. 500 more are stationed in Kuwait. AAP Newsfeed reported on Oct. 18, that Australia, in addition to its contingent of troops in-country, also had in Iraq an army security unit called SECDET, which is composed of 120 troops assigned to protect the Australian embassy. There is also an Australian Naval LAST with a 220-man crew patrolling the Persian Gulf just off the coast of Iraq. Prime minister John Howard plans for the troops to stay at least until mid-2005. (see also: Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq). In November 2004, several Australian soldiers were wounded in an ambush but none died.
  • Japan - 550 medics and engineers based in Samawah (Southern Iraq) on a humanitarian aid mission to rebuild local infrastructure, purify water and provide medical assistance. The reconstruction mission in Samawa limits the troops' activities to "non-combat zones". 3 Japanese hostages were captured in Iraq in early 2004 but were released unharmed a week later following non-compliance from Tokyo to the hostage takers' demands. Later, in a statement released in July 2004, 'Al Zarqawi' released a statement threatening Japan, Poland and Bulgaria over their troop deployments. He demanded the Japanese government to 'do what the Phillipines have done' and withdraw its troops, and said that 'lines of cars laden with explosives are awaiting you' if his demands were not met. Several months later, one Japanese civilian was captured by insurgents and killed.
  • Denmark - Independent contingent of 550 troops including infantry, medics and military police in South East Iraq near Basra at "Camp Danevang". Denmark has lost one soldier in Iraq to friendly fire. In addition, one Danish businessman was killed in April 2004 in an insurgent attack. Denmark has plans to leave Iraq in early to late 2006, although the government has not laid firm plans, and may stay on if requested at that time.
  • Bulgaria - 485 mechanized infantry troops under Polish command, guarding municipal buildings and town centre in Kerbala (South Central Iraq). Bulgaria announced on Nov. 3 that it would reduce the size of its contingent in Iraq to 462 troops during the next scheduled unit rotation. In a statement released in July 2004, 'Al Zarqawi' released a statement threatening Japan, Poland and Bulgaria over their troop deployments. He demanded the 'crusader Bulgarian government' to withdraw its troops, and promised to 'turn Bulgaria into pools of blood' if his demands were not met. Prime Minister Georgi Parvanov denied, saying 'we will not give in to the terrorists' pressure.' Bulgaria lost seven soldiers in Iraq in insurgent attacks. In addition, two Bulgarian truck drivers have been captured and killed in Iraq.
  • El Salvador - 380 special forces troops under Polish command (Central South Iraq). New President Antonio Saca took office on June 1st 2004 and promised to renew his troop contingent's stay in Iraq beyond the expiry of their commitment in August, saying that a further decision would be made after the January 30th elections in Iraq. El Salvador lost one soldier in Iraq.
  • Mongolia - 180 men in an infantry company.
  • Azerbaijan - 250 troops. 100 soldiers were sent on the 29th of December 2004 to reinforce the 150 soldiers already in the country. The provide security for local Turkmen populations, religious sites and convoys.
  • Georgia - 300 troops including special forces, medics and engineers. Sometime during the occupation, several Georgian soldiers were wounded in an attack but none died.
  • Latvia - 122 troops under Polish command (Central South Iraq). Latvia lost one soldier in Iraq in an insurgent attack.
  • Czech Republic - 107 military policemen. Czech government has announced the troops will be pulled out to the end of 2005. In addition, a Czech worker was killed in an accident in April 2004.
  • Lithuania - 105 troops under under Polish command (Central South Iraq).
  • Slovakia - 105 troops (probably chemical warfare company) under Polish command (Central South Iraq). Slovakia lost three soldiers in Iraq in an insurgent attack.

Fewer than 100 soldiers

  • Albania - 70 (probably special forces) troops under US command near Mosul.
  • Estonia - 55 special forces troops. Estonia has lost two soldiers in Iraq in separate insurgent attacks.
  • Tonga - 45 Royal Marines. Arrived in Iraq at the beginning of July 2004 to augment the I Marine Expeditionary Force in the Al Anbar Province.
  • Kazakhstan - 29 military engineers. One was killed (09/01/2005) along with eight Ukrainians when they were trying to destroy munitions in the Southern Wasit province.
  • Macedonia - 33 troops (special forces). In late 2004 three Macedonian workers building barracks on American bases were executed after being captured by insurgents.
  • Moldova - 12 de-miners and medics. The Washington Post, on 15 July 2004, reported that Moldova had quietly halved its contingent from 24 to 12.

According to a BBC monitoring report, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces had abandoned plans to deploy a battalion to Iraq under the Coalition, for financial reasons.

United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI)

  • Fiji - 130 Fijian troops protecting UN buildings and staff in and around the Green Zone, ahead of the Iraqi elections in January. ABC News reported on the 20th of October 2004, that the contingent (trained, equipped and transported to Iraq by Australia) would be deployed the following month. 3 Fijian contractors have been killed in Iraq.

Nations no longer participating in ground operations

  • Nicaragua - 230 troops left in February 2004, no replacement, attributed to financial reasons. While in Iraq, the troops were under Spanish command.
  • Spain - had 1,300 troops in Najaf and commanded the troops of Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and of Nicaragua. Newly elected Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero fulfilled one of his campaign pledges and declared the end of the mission on April 28 2004 with the withdrawal of the last 260 troops. While in Iraq, Spain lost 11 military personnel: ten killed in separate insurgent attacks and one in an accident.
  • Honduras - 368 troops withdrawn by end of May along with Spain's contingent, citing that the troops were sent there for reconstruction, not combat. While in Iraq, the troops were under Spanish command (South East Iraq)
  • Norway - 140 of 150 humanitarian troops withdrawn on June 30, 2004 citing growing domestic opposition and the need for the troops elsewhere; approximately ten liaison troops remain. The Bondevik II administration insists the troops were never part of the invasion force, citing a UN humanitarian mandate. This does not seem to have come to the attention of the international community, as the Al Quaida on at least two occasions has included Norway in videotaped threats, and US organizations have included Norway on their lists of participating nations. The actual status of Norwegian engineering and administrative personnel past and present are still a matter of domestic controversy, in part because troops serving in a war zone are entitled to better pay.
  • Dominican Republic - 302 troops withdrawn by end of May shortly after Spain and Honduras withdrew their contingents, citing growing domestic opposition. While in Iraq, the troops were under Spanish command (South East Iraq).
  • Philippines - 51 medics, engineers and soldiers withdrawn July 14 2004 in response to kidnapping of a truck driver. When the hostage takers' demands were met (Filipino troops out of Iraq), the hostage was released. While in Iraq, the troops were under Polish command (Central South Iraq) and during that time several Filipino soldiers were wounded in an insurgent attack but none died. In addition, four Filipino civilian workers were killed by insurgents in Iraq over April, May and June 2004.
  • Thailand - Withdrawal of last 100 troops from Thailand's 423-strong humanitarian contingent completed on 10th September 2004, in accordance with Thailand's mandate in Iraq which expired in September. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had previously announced early withdrawal if the situation became too dangerous. Thailand lost two soldiers in Iraq in an insurgent attack.
  • Hungary - Hungary's contingent of 300 transportation troops had begun arriving home in Budapest from Iraq on the 22nd of December 2004, reported AFP. All of Hungary's troops were reported by the Defence Ministry to have left Iraq by the end of that day day. While in Iraq one Hungarian soldier was killed in an insurgent attack. One Hungarian contractor was also shot dead by American troops in a friendly-fire accident.
  • New Zealand - Unit of 60 military engineers, known as Task Force Rake, was withdrawn from Iraq on 15th September 2004 at the expiration of their mandate. While in Iraq the unit was under British command (South East Iraq) and was based in Basra. One New Zealand contractor was killed in Iraq.
  • Portugal - had 128 military policemen under Italian command (South East Iraq). Troops were withdrawn on Feb. 12th, 2005. In June 2004 one Portuguese technician was killed in Iraq in an insurgent attack.
  • Singapore - A total of 192 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel returned in 31 January 2004 after a two month deployment. A Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) amphibious transport dock conducted logistical tasks such as replenishing supplies for other naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, and conducted patrols to show maritime presence. It also provided a platform for helicopter missions and maritime boarding operations missions by teams from other coalition countries when they inspected ships leaving Iraq. A (SAF) C-130 transport aircraft returned on 4 April 2004 after a two month deployment. During its deployment, the C-130 detachment conducted air support missions, including providing airlift and transportation of logistics supply to coalition forces. A SAF KC-135 tanker aircraft returned on 11 September 2004 after a three month deployment. During its deployment, the KC-135 provided air-to-air refuelling for coalition forces. A RSN amphibious transport dock with 180 personnel returned on 19 March 2005 after a three month deployment. Currently, there are no SAF personnel in Iraq.

Nations planning/considering to send/increase personnel in Iraq

  • On September 6, Armenia announced it would deploy 46 troops to Iraq. The troop's role would ostensibly only be to only conduct humanitarian operations. They would be assigned to the Polish Area of Responsibility. It was not exactly clear when the troops would be deployed, though it could happen as early as January 2005.
  • Hungary is set to deploy 150 non-combat troops to Iraq in mid-2005, as part of a NATO training mission, a mission which does not require parliamentary approval. They will be separate from the Coalition forces.
  • 500 separate Georgian troops will be deployed for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) sometime in 2005, bringing the Georgian troop contingent to around 800.
  • Rumour has it that Thailand and Albania may send 200 and 130(more) troops respectively to Iraq on the request of the US and the UN.
  • On the 12th October, the Romanian Defence Minister highlighted the possibility of sending 100 Romanian troops to take part in the UNAMI.

Private military contractors

In addition to regular troops there are roughly 20,000 private military contractors, described by some as mercenaries, in Iraq. This is more than twice the number of boots on the ground than the second largest group of troops of the participating nations, United Kingdom. These contractors also differ from regular troops as they are outside a Uniform Code of Military Justice, and have little or no legal accountability, making them especially feared and unpopular with the Iraqi population. However under the Geneva Conventions private contractors, along with everyone in Iraq, may be tried by fair and impartial military tribunals set up by one of the Occupying Powers. There have been unconfirmed reports of more than 40,000 'private military contractors' or 'mercenaries' operating in Iraq in December 2004.

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