A NATO Force is to be renamed and sent to Iraq. This force is to support the new Iraq administration.
3,000 more UK troops for Iraq
· Nato force to be deployed to bolster new government
· Bloody career of al-Qaida's leader in Gulf
Richard Norton-Taylor and Ewen MacAskill
Saturday June 19, 2004
A Nato force including up to 3,000 British troops will be deployed to Iraq to support the vulnerable new government as it takes over the running of
the country, under a plan being drawn up in London and Washington.
The force would consist of Nato's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, based in Germany under the command of a British general, Sir Richard Dannatt,
reinforced by a British battle group.
Officials said yesterday the corps would be "temporarily extracted" from Nato to make it more politically acceptable to members of the alliance -
notably France and Germany - that were opposed to the war, as well as Russia and many Iraqi leaders.
The new force would not be deployed under a Nato banner but would be described as a British-led international force. About 60% of the corps' staff
Officials said the plan is expected to be formally agreed at the Nato summit in Istanbul on the eve of the official handover of sovereignty on June 30
to the interim Iraqi government led by Ayad Allawi.
Britain's chiefs of staff have been working on plans for weeks involving the deployment of up to 3,000 troops to south central Iraq, including the
holy city of Najaf, the scene of fighting between US forces and the militia of the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Defence sources said the plan would increase pressure on the army but that it could live with it for a finite period. A deployment of 18 months is
The government announced on Thursday that 600 Royal Marines are to be deployed to bolster British forces in southern Iraq. Though they will replace an
army battalion, the deployment will increase the number of British troops in Iraq by around 270, to 9,200.
The proposed British-led international force is likely to include troops from several members of the alliance.
The US has been struggling to find countries willing to put up troops for Iraq, even after the UN resolution agreed earlier this month on the status
of the interim government.
British military comman ders have insisted that the role of their troops must be seen in the overall strategic, political, and economic situation in
Iraq. Their concerns were reflected in a leaked Foreign Office memo last month. In the event of Britain agreeing to send reinforcements, it said, "we
must ensure that ... we can prevent US action, either at the strategic or operational levels, which would jeopardise our objectives".
It added: "We need a more flexible approach towards cooperation with existing militias". Mr Sadr's decision this week, under pressure from moderate
Shia leaders and perhaps with political ambitions in mind, to order his Mehdi militia to go home, should make the task of a new international force
This force has to be "temporarily extracted" because NATO operates on a "if one NATO country is attacked, all NATO countries respond" principle.
Should a country, for example Iran, cause interference in Iraq and NATO forces were involved, this would dramatically expand the war in Iraq.