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Rumsfeld Visits Multinational Division in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

AL HILLAH, Iraq, Sept. 6, 2003 – An assortment of uniforms greeted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld as he arrived at the headquarters of the Multinational Division South-Central here today.

Polish Maj. Gen. Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, the division commander, greeted the secretary. With the general were staff officers from Hungary, Spain, Ukraine and the other nations that have contributed forces to the division. U.S. Marines are still at the base, but they will leave soon, officials said.

The division comprises 8,000 troops. The Polish have made the largest contribution to the division, followed by Spain and Ukraine. Rumsfeld said it pleased him to see so many countries working together for peace in Iraq. Seventeen nations have troops in the division, with more expected, said Polish officials.

The division has taken over the area the U.S. Marines formerly occupied. It encompasses Karbala, Babil, Najaf, Al Qadisayah and Wasit. The area is 80 percent Shiia, said a senior defense official, and things calmed down very quickly in the area after the arrival of the Marines in April.

The Polish general said the handover from the Marines to his command went very smoothly. The biggest problem, he noted, is overcoming the language problems. "All orders are issued to the NATO standard," said a senior Polish officer. "When it goes out to the various commands, they translate it as needed." Some business is conducted in Russian, a common language among some allies.

A Polish officer said his country's experience under communism helps his forces understand the problems and challenges of the local situation.

Besides Poland, Ukraine, Spain and Hungary, other countries contributing troops are Honduras, Kazakhstan, El Salvador, Lithuania, Mongolia, Romania, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Thailand, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia and the Dominican Republic.

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