The Pentagon is planning to rotate American troops in Iraq, who currently number about 145,000. There are also approximately 13,000 non-American soldiers patrolling the embattled nation. Where do these other “allied forces” come from?
Obviously, the bulk of these troops are British—about 11,000 of the non-American total. Another 1,000 or so are Australians, down from a peak of 2,000 during the height of combat. After that, it’s a mishmash of small units, primarily from European countries. Getting exact figures on troops sent by other participants is tricky, in large part because Centcom and the Department of Defense are pretty cagey about keeping such data hush-hush. (Click here for a Slate “War Stories” account of the Pentagon’s vagueness on these matters.)
What is known, though, is that 380 Danish troops are keeping the peace in the southern Iraqi town of Qurna, purported to be the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden. The Danes also have command over 45 Lithuanians belonging to the Grand Duke Algirdas Motorized Infantry Battalion. The Lithuanians are preparing to commit another 50 troops shortly, and these newcomers will be joined by a tiny unit from Latvia, too. Romania sent its first contingent of 77 troops on July 16 and aims to have 400 of its finest in place by month’s end. And Albanian Defense Minister Pandeli Majko has announced that 70 of his nation’s soldiers are assisting the 101st Airborne in Mosul, the city where Odai and Qusai Hussein were recently killed.
The Poles currently have between 200 and 300 men in Iraq; several Polish news sources report that at least 50 of those soldiers are members of Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno Mobilnego, the country’s elite special forces unit. The Poles are scheduled to beef up their presence to 2,300 troops by Sept. 1, however, when they’ll take over command of a large swath of southern Iraq. Joining them will be 1,300 Spaniards and a smattering of Bulgarians, Romanians, Hungarians, and Slovakians. And just yesterday, the Dominican Republic announced that it will be contributing 300 troops to this Polish-led effort, too.
The other contributions are a bit more piecemeal. Last month, a unit of about 100 Italian troops arrived at Nasiriyah to help with humanitarian duties rather than peacekeeping. Their ranks are slated to eventually rise to 1,700, though it’s unclear when this buildup will be completed. New Zealand will be sending 60 armed engineers to aid in the reconstruction effort. There have also been reports that Czech troops are assisting with the peacekeeping efforts, but these may merely be remnants of the chemical-weapons teams that Prague dispatched near the beginning of the war.
Last week, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced that, aside from the United States and Great Britain, nine nations had troops on the ground in Iraq. However, Explainer had no luck trying to locate data on precisely how many Norwegian, Dutch, and Ukrainian soldiers are helping out right now. (Curiously, Straw failed to credit the Aussies or Albanians in his speech.). Got any intelligence on these or other nationalities currently within Iraq’s borders? Let us know.